Italian bank Unicredit launches strategic review

MILAN – Italian bank UniCredit said Monday it is launching an “in-depth strategic review” under its new CEO Jean Pierre Mustier, a move that comes at a time when the financial health of the country’s banks has come under increasing investor scrutiny.

Italy’s largest bank by assets said in a statement that the review of all areas of the bank’s operations will seek “to reinforce and optimize the group’s capital position, (and) improve profitability.” The moves will include further cost-cutting, optimizing capital and reducing risk, the bank said.

The bank identified German subsidiary HVB, its central and eastern European operations and corporate investment bank as strategic operations, and said that the bank’s “strong Italian roots make the Italian bank absolutely core to the group.”

The bank also announced Monday that it will sell up to 10 per cent of its stake in its internet banking subsidiary FinecoBank. It currently holds a 65-per cent stake, and said it would retain a majority share.

News of the review and the planned asset sale come as Italian banks are facing pressure to improve their capital position following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Mustier, who previously held several positions at French bank Societe Generale, was named CEO last month as the bank tries to improve its profitability and help its share price recover.

UniCredit shares have fallen more than 60 per cent in the last six months, and closed down nearly 3 per cent Monday at 1.85 euros.