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By Francesca Landini
MILAN, March 15 (Reuters) - Italy's Poste Italiane is looking to expand its parcel business through acquisitions and joint ventures, Chief Executive Francesco Caio said on Wednesday.
The Italian post office, which is controlled by the state, is a conglomerate that combines insurance and financial divisions together with a loss-making mail and parcel unit.
The group is in the midst of a restructuring masterminded by Caio aimed at bringing the mail and parcel division back to profit and expanding its asset management and financial activities.
"An opportunity to strengthen our position in the parcel business would be welcomed ... also through M&A activity or joint ventures," Caio told analysts.
The group said on Wednesday revenue rose 7.7 percent year-on-year in 2016 to 33.1 billion euros ($35.4 billion), broadly in line with analysts' estimates.
Net profit rose 12.7 percent to 622 million euros, beating the average forecast of 596 million euros, despite two one-off charges totaling 90 million euros.
The group will pay a dividend of 0.39 euros per share on its 2016 results.
The main engine of growth was the insurance division, whose revenue grew by 10.8 percent annually.
The mail and parcel unit recorded a surprise rise of 1.8 percent in total revenue, but this improvement was helped by a one-off payment of around 100 million euros that Poste received from the state for mail delivery services in previous years.
Excluding the impact of extraordinary items, the revenue of the mail business continued to fall, compensated partly by an increase in the parcel business.
"It is reasonable to expect that a rise in the parcel business will offset a fall in the turnover for the mail in two or three years," finance chief Luigi Ferraris said.
Over the medium-term, the group aims to attract more savers by offering asset management services and marketing its financial division, BancoPosta, as a safe harbour for small investors.
In 2016, BancoPosta increased its deposits by 10 percent to nearly 50 billion euros as savers scared by the troubles of traditional Italian banks moved to the state-controlled group.
Caio's term ends in April and the Italian press has speculated whether he will keep his job after that.
$1 = 0.9344 euros Editing by Mark Potter