UniCredit May Strengthen Presence in Middle East, Asia, CEO Says

UniCredit SpA is considering strengthening its presence in the fastest-growing regions of the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, Chief Executive Officer Federico Ghizzoni said.

“The bank is reviewing its presence outside Europe and may open new offices and branches in those regions to support the bank’s clients,” Ghizzoni told reporters late yesterday at a meeting with foreign press in Milan. UniCredit may also sign commercial agreements with local banks boosting offer for finance, advisory and global transaction banking services for European customers, he said.

UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, which has offices in about 50 countries, is focusing on banking and commercial business to improve profitability. The bank is cutting costs and disposing of assets, including Pioneer Global Asset Management SpA and UniCredit Credit Management Bank SpA, as part of a plan targeting 2 billion euros ($2.54 billion) of net income this year.

The lender, which is in talks with two bidders to sell its bad-loan division, UniCredit Credit Management, will decide whether to enter into exclusive talks to complete the sale by next week, the CEO said. The bank could drop the plan if the offers are not satisfying, he said.

UniCredit doesn’t plan additional sales other than the transaction on UCCMB and Pioneer, Ghizzoni said.

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