Italy’s Intesa Mulls Turkish Deals as it Targets Growth

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA said it will consider acquisitions in Turkey as Italy’s second-biggest bank seeks to expand outside its home market.

The lender will consider both deals and organic growth to expand in the Middle Eastern nation, Marcello Sala, senior vice chairman of Intesa, said at a press conference in Istanbul Thursday, adding the bank isn’t actively pursuing any deals.

Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina is seeking to strengthen his bank’s presence in growing markets including Slovakia, Serbia and Turkey as Italy struggles to emerge from its longest ever recession. The CEO is cutting costs, merging units and shedding assets as part of a four-year plan targeting total cash dividends of 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion.

The bank abandoned a deal with Turkey’s Garanti Bank a decade ago because the timing wasn’t right, Intesa General Manager Gaetano Micciche also told reporters in Istanbul today.

While Turkey’s 2.9 percent GDP growth in 2014 fell short of government forecasts, that’s still more than the 0.8 percent advance recorded in the euro area, where most of Intesa’s business is focused. Gregorio de Felice, Intesa’s chief economist, predicts the Turkish economy will grow by 3.5 percent this year and 4 percent in 2016, sustaining an expansion of Intesa’s activities.

Intesa is also considering options for its Eurizon Capital SGR unit, Messina said in an interview in February with Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg television.

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