Italy’s UniCredit and Intesa could bring merger plan forward in emergency scenario, Sentino

Insistent press reports suggested over the last days that Italy’s UniCredit and Intesa SanPaolo, the country’s two largest lenders, have been in talks over a possible merger plan.

According to daily La Repubblica, UniCredit’s vice chairman Fabrizio Palenzona has been discussing this idea with shareholders at Intesa Sanpaolo, as the bank is becoming increasingly vulnerable to a foreign takeover bid, after its shares fell 32% in the last year.

Even if chief executives at both banks, Enrico Cucchiani at Intesa and Federico Ghizzoni at UniCredit, have denied so far any plan to combine Italy’s two biggest banks, there might be some real commitment to join forces to shield the ownership against hostile takeovers, according to independent financial adviser Lorenzo Sentino.

“Since 2008, market capitalisation of the two groups decreased substantially to €20bn, less than net assets,” he said.

Numbers which could meet the appetite of international banking or industrial groups, increasingly interested in stepping into the Italian market, Sentino added.

“At the moment this scenario is only a fantasy option, but it could become very real in a context of emergency,” he said.

 

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