How far can Orcel take UniCredit?
A market-beating increase in UniCredit’s share price is just the beginning, chief executive Andrea Orcel tells Euromoney. He must now prove the many remaining sceptics wrong and show the bank can still thrive when net interest margins fall and credit costs rise.
As rate-driven profitability has improved across European banking, few firms have recovered as impressively as UniCredit.
The Milan-based lender was a target of European bank investor dissatisfaction during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. A tentative recovery of its share price in 2021 then ended abruptly when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, thanks to UniCredit’s Russian business. Over the year to the end of September, however, the bank’s share price roughly doubled, outperforming any other large European bank by far.
The question now is whether or not it can keep this up and wrongfoot those investors that remain sceptical.
Better than the rest
UniCredit is often considered an archetypal European bank because of its geographic footprint, including large market shares in Italy, Germany, Austria and various central and eastern European countries.
In the last decade, it was one of the firms that best encapsulated the poor state of European banking, with poor profitability similar to lenders such as Germany’s Commerzbank and France’s Societe Generale, another important player in CEE.
But after 10 consecutive quarters of earnings growth and better-than-expected results, UniCredit’s return on tangible equity reached around 17% in the first half of 2023.