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Opinion

Where does Intesa’s UBI Banca takeover leave UniCredit?

What was Italy’s biggest bank is giving free rein to Intesa Sanpaolo in Italy, making CEO Carlo Messina’s crown even more secure.

Carlo Messina 780

Jean Pierre Mustier has ruled out UniCredit from entering the fray for UBI Banca, following Intesa Sanpaolo’s €4.9 billion bid for Italy’s fifth biggest bank. In a letter to employees shortly after Intesa’s move, he reiterated that UniCredit remains focused not on M&A but on its internal transformation, its financing of the Italian economy and its businesses across Europe. 

Mustier’s much-needed moves to de-risk UniCredit and strengthen its capital had already brought it close to losing its lead as Italy’s biggest bank by assets. Now the UBI takeover will tip the balance and make Intesa not just the market-share leader in Italy but also Italy’s biggest bank, with more than €1 trillion in assets.

Mustier_Unicredit_160x186

Jean Pierre Mustier

But if UniCredit stays on the sidelines, that’s good news for Intesa – its main rival – as it rules out the only local interloper that UBI chief executive Victor Massiah might prefer.

According to one investment banker involved in Italian bank M&A discussions, UBI’s most likely white knights from abroad – BNP Paribas or Crédit Agricole – would be well-advised to wait for this deal to go ahead and then target Banco BPM, the third biggest bank, as they will then have fewer Italian rivals for such a deal. 


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