UniCredit Plans to Open Branches, Double Staff in China

UniCredit SpA (UCG), Italy’s biggest bank, plans to open new branches in China, doubling its staff to increase revenue in Asia’s fastest-growing economy, General Manager Roberto Nicastro said.

“We are inaugurating our second branch in Guangzhou and aim to open other branches in Beijing, in the coast and in the central western cities of Chongqing and Chengdu,” Nicastro said in an interview in Cernobbio, Italy. “The Chinese market is crucial for us, we are ready to double our presence in the next few years.”

In China, the Milan-based lender offers finance, advisory and global transaction banking services for European customers through branches in Shanghai and Guangzhou and a representative office in Beijing which employ about 50 people. China, the world’s second-biggest economy, expanded 9.5 percent in the second quarter of this year and is expected to grow 9 percent by year-end, according to an Aug. 18 note by Morgan Stanley.

Unicredit provides 500 million-euros ($704 million) of loans in China, Nicastro said. It competes with Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Germany’s biggest lender and Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA. (ISP)

The bank’s second-quarter quarter profit more than tripled to 511 million euros on lower provisions and higher revenue. Executives are reviewing the bank’s strategy in some markets to increase profitability. A new business plan should be presented by November.

Supporting Clients

“Our strong presence in Europe gives us a competitive advantage, as we can follow our European customers, especially German and Italian, that want to develop business in China,” Nicastro said. “The Chinese market is booming and the outlook for European quality exports there is one of the very few truly exciting developments today.”

Italian exports to China grew 29 percent to 8.6 billion euros in 2010, according to data from ICE, Italy’s office for international trade. Marcegaglia SpA, the steelmaker owned by the head of Italy’s main business lobby, Emma Marcegaglia, and German carmakers are among the clients UniCredit is supporting, Nicastro said.

Intesa Sanpaolo has an office in Beijing, branches in Shanghai and Hong Kong and owns stakes in Qingdao City Commercial Bank, insurance company Union Life and Penghua Fund Management, according to an Intesa slide presentation in June. Deutsche Bank employs more than 500 people in mainland China, offering advisory, private and consumer banking, asset management, commercial and real-estate services, according to Deutsche Bank’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sonia Sirletti in Milan at ssirletti@bloomberg.net; Alessandra Migliaccio in Rome at amigliaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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