MILAN (Reuters) - Societe Generale wants to play a key role in a European banking consolidation process that it expects to happen even if conditions are not right at the moment, the chairman of the French bank said.
Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said that Europe needed cross-border banking mergers to create big players that could compete with U.S. rivals.
“SocGen wants to be a protagonist of this consolidation process which will happen,” he told reporters in Milan late on Wednesday.
He added however that the conditions for such mergers to materialize were not in place yet because of political, economic and regulatory hurdles.
SocGen has been the subject of recurring speculation about a possible tie-up with Italy’s UniCredit. Bini Smaghi declined to comment on individual banks.
UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank by assets, could explore a merger with Commerzbank if ongoing talks between the German bank and Deutsche Bank fall through, two people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday, confirming a report in the Financial Times.
Bini Smaghi said both the Italian and German banking markets were too fragmented and needed to consolidate.
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Agnieszka Flak