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Intesa Sanpaolo’s UBI Banca takeover faces hurdles

Italy’s anti-trust authority could yet side with those who argue UBI Banca will serve Italy’s banking system better by doing acquisitions of its own.

Carlo-Messina official2 780px

Intesa Sanpaolo chief executive Carlo Messina

Will Intesa Sanpaolo’s attempt to merge with UBI Banca hasten a long-awaited wave of bank consolidation in Italy – perhaps even at the hands of UBI, if the Intesa takeover falls through?

UBI and its advisers, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, are hoping that regulators and shareholders will think so, as the two banks await the outcome of a protracted inquiry by Italy’s anti-trust authority.

Intesa’s UBI merger, if it happens, would be Europe’s biggest bank takeover in a decade. It would combine Italy’s biggest bank by domestic share, Intesa, with one of the strongest lenders in the rich north of the country, UBI. But it faces a barrier in the form of opposition from UBI’s biggest shareholder pact, representing politically influential local bank foundations in Piedmont and Lombardy, and powerful entrepreneurs in Bergamo, UBI’s home town.

According to a source at Intesa, when chief executive Carlo Messina announced the deal in mid February, he anticipated opposition by UBI’s board and the shareholder pact, which represents 19% of shares.

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