The risk comes to life and the generals organize armies and strategies. Waiting for Andrea Orcel to take office as CEO of Unicredit, a move that will be a preluder to the new strategy of the Piazza Gae Aulenti group, there are other banks that have revised their position in recent days. Above all, Bper.
The list that the bank’s first shareholder, the Bologna-based insurance company Unipol, will present in view of the shareholders’ meeting on 21 April clearly defines one thing: the departure of the chairman Pietro Ferrari and the CEO Alessandro Vandelli mark an unprecedented change in the former popular, which in the near future will perhaps be more Bolognese, certainly less Modenese.
A possible president indicated by the second shareholder, the Banco di Sardegna Foundation and a highly experienced CEO such as Piero Luigi Montani, 67 years old when appointed, design a bank different from the past. The move played by Carlo Cimbri is transparent: Montani is functional to face the future opportunities that the bank will evaluate, said the CEO of Unipol, who highlighted how, with the renewal of the top management, he aims to have hands free in view of the next operations market.
Nothing will happen anytime soon. Cimbri has taken time: he is well aware that the integration of the 532 former Ubi agencies just purchased by Intesa Sanpaolo takes time and that Bper’s IT system deserves to be updated. But having severed the connections with the more traditional Modena allows the bank’s first shareholder to look to the future with greater freedom, guaranteeing himself hands free. Whether the very popular marriage with Banco Bpm goes through, or whether you look at the Popolare di Sondrio, or whether you turn to Genoa, to the Carige one that Montani knows very well, not at the decisive moment. It counts to be ready and from the end of April Bper will be. Even for more important operations. As for the time, Unicredit will be ready. Both will change president and CEO in the coming weeks.
The arrival of Orcel in Piazza Gae Aulenti expected with the assembly on April 15th. The manager will have to put his hand to the new industrial plan by the end of the year, but above all he will have to try to identify a possible future for the group, crushed in recent years by the initiative of Intesa Sanpaolo on the domestic market and concentrated by the will of the former ceo Jean Pierre Mustier on some specific sectors of the business banking, such as the corporate and investment banking.
The future of Unicredit, also given the characteristics of Orcel, will probably pass through a market operation. Many point to Monte dei Paschi di Siena as the possible target. In fact, Unicredit is the only Italian bank that today has the balance sheet size that allows a fiscal capacity such as to benefit from the contribution that Mps could bring with it (up to 6 billion euros).
But Mps for Unicredit is an opportunity, not an obligation. And the opportunities, at this moment, are not lacking. Also in Italy. To the point that some important Unicredit shareholders continue to look to Mediobanca and Assicurazioni Generali. The ambitions are there. Orcel manager who looks to the point and an operation that has Unicredit, Mediobanca and Generali at the top would lead to imagine not the second Italian pole, but the other pole, in open market opposition to Intesa Sanpaolo. In the face of such scenarios, small-scale cabotage operations risk not being significant. And this is also well known by Cimbri, who does not think of a subordinate role neither for Bper nor for Unipol.
Meanwhile, another story was defined. Nine months in advance, Cassa Centrale Banca announced that it will not acquire the majority of the Genoese Carige. After a year and a half of studying the holding of the Trento-based cooperative credit company backtracked. Covid’s fault, of course. But also of the precariousness of the condition of Carige. What rural and cooperative bankers were doing in the capital of a spa, suspended from listing on the stock exchange and devastated by the management of Giovanni Berneschi’s time was never clear. In the end, the incompatibilities all emerged and Ccb limited the damage. He remains the owner of 8.3 per cent of Carige and has signed a bond. But it stops there. The problem is now entirely of the government at the hands of the Interbank Deposit Protection Fund and its voluntary scheme, to which 80 per cent of the capital of the Ligurian bank remains. One more thought for the public hand, called to find one business combination at the height, just as the deadline of the commitments undertaken with Europe for the rescue of Monte dei Paschi di Siena is approaching.