BPER’s Lead Investor Says Deal With Banco BPM Not An Option For Now
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s biggest investor in BPER Banca on Friday put the brakes on a long-planned merger with rival Banco BPM and said all options were open, after pushing for a change in leadership of BPER.
The insurance group Unipol, which is BPER’s leading investor with 19% of the capital, last year supported the idea of a merger between BPER and Banco BPM to create a third major banking group in the country.
The two banks have been in talks, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, adding that valuations and governance issues are expected to stand in the way of a possible deal.
In an interview with daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Unipol CEO Carlo Cimbri said BPER’s new chief executive, Piero Montani, would need time to decide on any potential deal.
Unipol proposed Montani on Thursday to replace BPER CEO Alessandro Vandelli. BPER shareholders will appoint a new board on April 21.
“BPER’s new board will certainly have a free hand,” Cimbri said.
A deal with Banco BPM, which he had described in the past as “a fascinating idea”, was unlikely to materialize by the end of the year, he said.
Instead, a merger between BPER and its smaller rival Banca Popolare di Sondrio seemed “the most natural option”, he said, given the commercial partnerships between the two banks in managing assets and insurance.
Cimbri has not ruled out a potential tie-up with Banca Carige after potential buyer Cassa Central Bank this week pulled out of the deal to acquire the loss-making Genoa-based bank.
Instead, he said Monte dei Paschi, the bailed-out bank the Treasury is trying to find a buyer for, was too big for BPER and a deal was never considered.
(Reporting by Andrea Mandalà; editing by Valentina Za and Barbara Lewis)