Credit Agricole to focus on internal growth to expand in Italy – paper

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Credit Agricole logo outside a bank office in Reze near Nantes, France, May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) – Credit Agricole will focus on internal growth to further boost its presence in Italy, the head of its Italian operations said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday.

“Organic growth is the priority for Credit Agricole Italia,” Giampiero Maioli told financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Italy is Credit Agricole’s biggest foreign market and consolidation in the sector is again heating up.

Shares in Banco BPM closed up 9.8% on Friday after a press report that heavyweight UniCredit was about to launch a takeover offer for the country’s third-largest bank.

Credit Agricole Italia had explored a possible tie-up with Banco BPM before setting its sights on small peer Creval, whose takeover it sealed last year.

Bankers say one of the reasons for UniCredit to consider a potential takeover of Banco BPM is to fend off rival interest for the Milan-based bank.

Maioli said Credit Agricole Italia was not studying any transactions at the moment and ruled out any interest for state-owned bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

“Obviously, like every other player with whom we compete, we are careful to consider the opportunities that should present itself on the market,” he added.

In recent months Credit Agricole Italia had accessed the books of Carige, a bailed-out regional lender which was looking for a buyer and then entered exclusive talks with BPER Banca.

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