MILAN – Intesa Sanpaolo would need a cross-border merger and acquisition (M&A) deal to become a European leader in its core wealth management and insurance businesses, but there are no suitable targets at present, its chief executive said.
CEO Carlo Messina said Intesa’s focus on fee-yielding businesses such as wealth management and non-life insurance was the right one, putting the bank among a ‘Champions League’ of the few European lenders valued at close to their book value.
“That’s absolutely the real winning business model,” he told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, adding Intesa was already a leader in its home country and could only add private bankers or relationship managers to grow its domestic business.
“But if we want to create a real European leader we have to look for something different … it should be cross-border,” he added.
The problem, Messina said, is that targets are either too risky, especially when their size is significant, or too pricey.
“Credit Suisse could have been a clear opportunity in the past, but the situation of the bank is difficult to understand and … we can’t make any move that could dilute our strengths,” he said.
When it comes to smaller potential targets, the problem is their price in relation to their book value, that risks eating into Intesa’s capital reserves, Messina said.
“For the time being I can tell you there is no possibility of making acquisitions in Europe.”