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Alessandro Profumo: Youngish, gifted and Italian

Hand-in-hand with the arrival of a new ethos in Italian banking, a new generation of senior managers has emerged. They are talented, energetic and young - which in Italian banking means under 60.

"These days the big guys make a difference," says Tomaso Spingardi, executive director at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. "If the top banks have very good management then the market goes in the right direction."

Nearly everyone's pick as the current star of the scene is Alessandro Profumo, the 42-year-old chief executive officer of Credito Italiano. In just a decade he has risen from being branch manager of Banco Lariano in Milan to leading arguably the most dynamic bank in Italy.

People who have worked with him are effusive in their praise. "He listens to ideas and elaborates them very quickly," says a banker. "One limit is that he has too many things on the table and so has to be very quick. Given his past successes he now always has to make the right move, simply because he is Profumo, the guy who has changed the way banking works."

Others point out that Profumo was simply the right guy, at the right bank, at the right time. Joining Credito exactly a year after it was privatized, Profumo was given virtually free rein by the bank's new shareholders. Others suggest that credit also has to go to chairman Lucio Rondelli for having the foresight to see Profumo's potential.

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