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Shares in Italy's Banca IFIS jump on capital boost

By Reuters

MILAN -Shares in Banca IFIS jumped as much as 6% on Tuesday after the small Italian bank said its parent company would complete a proposed move of its registered offices to Switzerland in January, lifting IFIS‘ capital ratios.

Banca IFIS is 50.5% owned by La Scogliera, a holding company that belongs to Italy’s Fuerstenberg family. IFIS Chairman Sebastien Egon Fuerstenberg had decided to move the legal headquarters of La Scogliera from Mestre in Venice to near Lausanne, Switzerland, for personal reasons, after obtaining clearance from Italy’s tax agency for the decision.

IFIS late on Monday said the move had become effective and would be completed by the end of January. Its cost of around 10 million euros has already been accounted for in the company’s guidance for 2021.

Approved in June by La Scogliera shareholders, the relocation could add around 4.5 percentage points to IFIS‘ core capital, reversing a negative impact linked to European Union banking rules.

Under the rules, IFIS had been forced to consolidate into La Scogliera for regulatory purposes and then deduct from its capital stakes held by minority investors.

“The news is positive for IFIS,” Equita SIM analyst Andrea Lisi said.

“While management has ruled out any extraordinary capital distribution, a CET1 ratio of around 16% will remove any uncertainty over capital buffers needed to support growth and give good visibility on dividends in years ahead,” he added, estimating an average dividend yield of around 6.5%.

Shares in Ifis were up 5.6% in late afternoon trading, making it one of the top gainers on the Milan bourse.

IFIS, which runs a bad loan business and offers specialised lending to small businesses, is due to present a new business plan in February under new Chief Executive Frederik Geertman.

“The potential capital benefit was one of the main reasons for our decision to include Banca IFIS in our Italian mid- corporate selected list,” Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Manuela Meroni said.

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