Rom After months of searching it seems Unicredit to have finally struck gold: As the news agencies Reuters and Bloomberg report independently of each other, the former should UBS-Banker Andrea Orcel will be the new CEO of the major Italian bank. Both agencies are referring to insiders, but there has not yet been an official confirmation from the bank. Sources of the Handelsblatt could not confirm the change on Tuesday evening.
The 57-year-old is to succeed the previous CEO Jean Pierre Mustier, who announced in November that he would resign at the annual general meeting in April at the latest. A decision on personnel at the HVB mother could be made on Wednesday, it said.
Orcel was head of investment banking at Swiss UBS until 2018. Then he wanted to leave Zurich to head the Spanish Major bank Santander to become. But Santander withdrew the offer because both sides could not agree on a salary. Orcel then sued the Spaniards for payment of 112 million euros.
Before his time in Switzerland, Orcel worked for the US investment bank, among others Merrill Lynchwhere he is now the nationalized crisis bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) advised on the nine billion euro takeover of competitor Banca Antonveneta – the deal weighed heavily on the traditional Tuscan bank before the global financial crisis and contributed to its decline.
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Strife about the strategy
The dispute over the MPS is also said to be a reason for Mustier’s early departure. For years, the French had been opposed to mergers, especially against those with the crisis bank from Siena, which is still majority owned by the Italian state and has to return to the private sector this year, according to the agreement with the EU Commission. Some major investors are also reportedly rebelling against the planned move. But Mustier and the Supervisory Board are also said to have been at odds with other strategic issues and the long-term orientation of the bank.
If Orcel is actually confirmed, a months-long power vacuum would end. The search for Mustier’s successor, led by the Spencer Stuart agency, had brought new names to the table since the end of the year. Most recently, however, a duel emerged between Orcel and Fabio Gallia, the general manager of the Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri. Orcel has now apparently won this duel.
The personnel was well received by investors. The Unicredit shares rose 4.5 percent on the Milan stock exchange. The US bank JPMorgan had recently raised its target price from eight to nine euros – and left the rating at “neutral”. Compared to the national competitor Intesa Sanpaolo the analyst Delphine Lee wrote in an industry study that Unicredit is at a disadvantage because of its lower profitability and deferred share buybacks. If the outcome of the possible MPS takeover is favorable to the market, the share could catch up in the short term.
With agency material from Reuters and dpa
More: New UBS boss creates glamorous debut – with a signal to rivals in Europe.