Italy's Largest Bank Wins Blue Chip Crown in Equities Selloff

  • Intesa’s market value exceeds Eni’s by about 3 billion euros
  • CEO Messina’s plan convinced investors amid market turmoil

Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

One upshot of the global equities selloff is that Italy has a new biggest company by market value.

Intesa Sanpaolo SpA shares have resisted the recent market rout, helped by Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina’s announcement of a new 2018-2021 strategy that’s based on generous dividends and expansion in insurance and wealth management. The lender’s market capitalization of 53.3 billion euros ($66 billion) now exceeds oil giant Eni SpA’s 50.2 billion euros.

Intesa is the second-best performing stock on the Stoxx 600 Banks Index this year, up 14 percent, while Eni is little changed. Enel SpA, which until recently also held the title of Italy’s most valuable company, has fallen 6.2 percent.

Banca Akros SpA on Wednesday upgraded Intesa to accumulate from neutral “following the convincing plan presentation,” and also citing “the higher dividend visibility and solid balance sheet.” JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised the stock to overweight from neutral, based on better dividend visibility, a clean-up of non-performing loans and a stronger CET1 capital ratio.

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