July 23, 2020 / 6:35 AM / 15 days ago

BPER aims to play role in Italy's banking consolidation: CEO tells paper

ROME (Reuters) - BPER Banca (EMII.MI) said on Thursday it would play an active role in Italy’s banking consolidation after completing the acquisition of UBI Banca (UBI.MI) branches, whose sale is part of Intesa Sanpaolo’s (ISP.MI) bid for UBI.

FILE PHOTO: Bper bank logo is pictured downtown Milan , Italy, November 7 ,2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

Intesa Sanpaolo announced a $4 billion all-paper exchange offer for UBI in February. To win antitrust approval, Intesa agreed to sell 532 branches to BPER. The deal has yet to win backing from enough UBI shareholders to go through.

“In the next months we will be busy in the deal over the 532 UBI branches which, size-wise, is like buying a bank,” BPER Chief Executive Alessandro Vandelli told financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

“Then we believe that we can play an active role in the (banking) consolidation,” he said.

UBI has rejected the offer and the deal, which would create the euro zone’s seventh-largest banking group. The deal has also met resistance from some local UBI investors.

“For us it is a unique and maybe unrepeatable opportunity to grow,” Vandelli said, saying the operation depended on the result of the tender offer, which runs until July 28 and needs acceptance from 50% of UBI’s capital plus one share to be valid.

As of Wednesday, take-up stood at 17.2% of UBI’s capital.

Vandelli had met UBI CEO Victor Massiah in late 2019 to discuss a potential tie-up, “but in December UBI decided to go forward with a standalone strategy”, BPER’s boss said.

Vandelli said the bank planned to launch the capital hike to finance the move in the second half of September. Sources said it would raise 600 million to 700 million euros via a share issue. Buying the branches is expected to take several months, he added.

Vandelli said there were no plans to make any branch staff redundant, adding: “We aim at increasing not cutting resources.”

Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, writing by Giulia Segreti

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