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UniCredito Italiano is expanding fast in the EU accession candidate countries of central and eastern Europe, where it seeks local banks with good management.

Roberto Nicastro
UniCredito Italiano is on the verge of purchasing yet another bank in central and eastern Europe. In March, the Italian bank, together with German insurance group Allianz, took a further 59.1% in Croatia's Zagrebacka Banka, adding to the 20% stake UniCredito and Allianz already holds. At press time UniCredito had launched a $130 million mandatory cash offer for the remaining voting shares in the bank.
With this, UniCredito will become one of the handful of foreign banks that have become key regional players in central and eastern Europe (CEE). "With the Zagrebacka Banca transaction, we think we become the number one group in the region by total banking assets," says Roberto Nicastro, deputy CEO and head of the foreign banks and new growth division. "But the difference is marginal between us, KBC and HypoVereinsbank."

Nicastro was involved in the execution of UniCredito's very first acquisition in the...