Prelios and US-listed firm Fortress have agreed to buy an Italian bad bank and loan book from UniCredit.

The joint venture will buy the Italian bank’s holding in the UniCredit Credit Management Bank (UCCMB) unit, as well as a €2.4bn book of small and medium-sized loans.

The sale, due to complete in the second quarter, comes as UniCredit looks to wind down its non-core business in Italy and de-risk its balance sheet.

“This transaction will help to make the Italian servicing market for the recovery of non-performing loans more independent and represents a positive step for the sector, in line with developments in other European countries,” the companies said in a joint statement.

UCCMB, a fully owned subsidiary of UniCredit, operates through a network of 25 Italian offices.

HIG Capital has also bought non-performing loans in Italy, recently acquiring its second portfolio through its Milan office.

The latest portfolio, of 52 loans, was originated by Group Cassa di Risparmio di Cesena and backed by residential and commercial real estate in the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions.