How Mustier lost the battle for UniCredit
Jean Pierre Mustier has spoken candidly with Euromoney throughout his five years of running UniCredit. Here is the inside story of how the first foreign chief executive of Italy’s international banking champion came close to continental leadership but left in acrimony – after clashing with the country’s financial establishment and with chairman-elect Pier Carlo Padoan.
When Jean Pierre Mustier walked onto the stage at the Institute of International Finance spring meetings in Brussels three years ago, the UniCredit chief executive looked like the leader not just of Italian but of European banking. The continent was in sore need of more pan-European lenders, Mustier proclaimed on stage. It needed institutions that would grow through big cross-border mergers. Only then could the sector stand up against the likes of JPMorgan, whose market capitalization already dwarfed any European bank.
It wasn’t long before rumours started to emerge of Mustier’s ambitions to make UniCredit the first mover in achieving this goal – perhaps through a merger with his old firm, Societe Generale, which a decade earlier he had been expected to run.