Intesa CEO Messina Says Bank in Talks to Sell Assets

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina said Italy’s second-biggest bank is in talks to sell non-strategic assets as part of a four-year plan.

“We are negotiating with some counterparties in order to exploit potential to make disposals,” Messina said in an interview with Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television in London today. “There are especially U.S. investors interested in Italian assets.”

Messina, who replaced Enrico Cucchiani in September, will dispose of all equity stakes over four years, including holdings in Alitalia SpA, Telecom Italia SpA and RCS MediaGroup SpA, he said in a March 31 presentation of the company’s strategic plan. The bank plans about 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) worth of disposals.

The 51-year-old CEO faces the challenge of bolstering profit after Italy’s longest recession in two decades, low interest rates and stricter rules from regulator squeezed margins. Intesa is one of 15 Italian lenders and 128 banks on the continent that the European Central Bank is evaluating before becoming the industry’s supervisor in November.

Bad Loans

Messina is reviewing whether to sell Intesa’s bad loans. The Milan-based bank, which posted a 5.19 billion-euro fourth-quarter loss after following UniCredit SpA in a balance-sheet cleanup, more than doubled its provisions for non-performing loans in the period to 3.1 billion euros.

“We made a lot of extra provisions, so non-performing loans could be a source of higher return,” Messina said. “We are recovering 40 percent in excess of our provisions.”

Intesa said it had provisions amounting to 46 percent of non-performing loans at the end of the year, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from three months earlier.

Intesa’s shares fell 0.5 percent to 2.52 euros at 10:30 a.m. in Milan, valuing the company at 41 billion euros.

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