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UniCredit: Orcel lays the ground for a strategic refresh

Beyond the headline-grabbing talks on buying Banca Monte dei Paschi, the new chief executive has radically reshaped the bank as he seeks to better harness its potential.

Negotiations over a potential purchase of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena inevitably attracted most attention during Andrea Orcel’s first year at UniCredit. The fall in the latter’s share price after the news in October that the deal was not going ahead indicates how much the market changed its attitude to that long-discussed deal since Orcel’s arrival in April.

Before deciding his strategy for the years ahead, though, Orcel’s priority has been to make sure that his team is properly structured and staffed. Changes were sorely needed, in his view, to reduce complexity and to make sure there was less doubt as to where responsibilities lay and that the bankers overseeing UniCredit’s most important markets should be more empowered, especially at a country level.

One of his first actions, a month after he joined, was to cut the number of executives almost by half, to 15. In doing so, he largely dismantled the elaborate co-head structure that his predecessor, Jean Pierre Mustier, had put in place across much of the top and mid level of management.

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