Bank Austria parent Unicredit needs a new boss

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The major Italian bank and Bank Austria parent Unicredit has to look for a new boss. When his mandate expires in April 2021, Jean Pierre Mustier will end his role as CEO.

The major Italian bank and Bank Austria parent Unicredit has to look for a new boss. The Italian bank announced on Monday evening that Jean Pierre Mustier will end his duties as CEO when his mandate expires in April 2021. Should a successor be available earlier, Mustier will vacate his post by then.

There are increasing disagreements between Mustier and the board of directors over the future strategy of the credit institution, said several people familiar with the matter to the Reuters news agency.

The core of the conflict is a possible bid for the nationalized Bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena and the plan to separate the Italian business and the foreign business of UniCredit. The Italian bank declined to comment on this. The possible departure of Mustier, who has brought the major bank, headquartered in Milan, back on track with a radical austerity program since taking office in mid-2016, depressed UniCredit shares by more than four percent on Monday. Mustier’s existing contract expires in the spring. The Frenchman wants to keep UniCredit out of the merger carousel in Europe and, according to insiders, is also reluctant to take over Monte Paschi.

Incentives to buy Monte Paschi

But Italian politicians are pushing for him to bid for Monte Paschi. The oldest bank in the world, which is groaning under a mountain of bad loans and expensive legal disputes, must be privatized again in accordance with the requirements of the EU Commission. Mustier has set strict terms on every possible deal, the insiders said. The Italian Ministry of Finance is working on incentives for the takeover of Monte Paschi. Mustier only officially abandoned the plans to spin off the international business, including the UniCredit subsidiary Bank Austria in Austria and the German HypoVereinsbank, at the beginning of November. The reason: Because of the economic environment and the ECB purchase programs, this is no longer relevant, according to Mustier. The project had not only made him friends in Italian politics.

Since taking office in 2016, Mustier has cut more than 20,000 jobs, cleared a mountain of bad loans and parted ways with businesses. He financed this, among other things, with a billion-dollar capital increase. His plan to return excess capital to the shareholders after the renovation could not be implemented due to the corona crisis and the dividend ban of the European bank guards. UniCredit plans to present a new strategy in the second quarter of 2021.
Changes are also imminent in the bank’s board of directors. Pier Carlo Padoan, who was the Italian Minister of Economics at the time of the Monte Paschi nationalization, is to become the new head of the supervisory body. (Reuters / red.)

(“Die Presse”, print edition, November 1st, 2020)



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