MILAN (Reuters) - A European probe into whether UniCredit and seven other banks ran a cartel in trading euro zone government bonds between 2007 and 2012 is “much ado about nothing”, the chief executive of Italy’s largest bank said on Thursday.
UniCredit said on Wednesday night that it was one of the banks targeted by the probe.
The European Commission in January revealed that some traders at eight unnamed banks had exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated trading strategies in euro-denominated bonds.
Asked about the significance of the probe for UniCredit, the bank’s Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Mustier told reporters: “If you knew what I know, you’d use the name of a Shakespeare play, it’s “Much ado about nothing.”
Mustier declined to comment on reports that his bank would be interested in merging its German unit HVB with Commerzbank if merger talks between Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank failed.
He said Europe needed big banks, but cross-board mergers were extremely difficult to pull off and the probability of any combination was low.
“Don’t hold your breath,” he said.
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi and Gianluca Semeraro, editing by Valentina Za