Italian Commercial Banks

According to the Bank of Italy, there were 841 banks in the country at the turn of the 21st century, one third of them being in banking groups. The statistical data demonstrates that 240 banks have been incorporated as stock-exchange-listed companies, these accounting for about eighty percent of the sector’s total assets, while the shares of savings banks and mutual banks are respectively 12 percent and 4.4 percent of the assets.

Historically, the Italians can be proud of having the oldest bank in the world. Monte dei Paschi di Siena (locally named Il Monte) has been a banking institution since 1472, twenty full years before Christopher Columbus discovered America! Interestingly enough, the oldest bank in the world was originally formed as a charity granting loans for the poor in Siena and benefiting the city’s economy. Today, the bank is a part of MPS Group (publicly traded as BIT, BMPS) , which holds the largest share of the domestic market. The bank has 32,870 officials working in over 1,900 branches throughout Italy and in the some of the world’s biggest financial centers. Through its subsidiaries (MPS Finance, Banca Toscana, and Antonveneta), Il Monte has developed a wide range of banking activities, including everyday banking solutions, bank loans, asset management, insurance and investment banking. After the acquisition of Banca Antonveneta in 2007-2008, Monte dei Paschi di Siena became Italy’s third largest bank after UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo.

UniCredit SpA (stock exchange symbols FWB: CRI, BIT: UCG) is the largest banking group based in Italy (headquartered in Milan) and one of the ten largest groups in the world. UniCredit Group started its existence in 1473, just a year after the establishment of Il Monte, as Intesa Sanpaolo, then in 1870 it changed to Banca di Genova and subsequently to Credito Italiano (1895). Today, the organization has 177,571 employees and a network of offices in twenty-two countries across Europe, serving more than forty million costumers. To their individual clients, the devoted team of UniCredit Group is proud to offer a rich variety of everyday banking services such as current and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, consumer and mortgage loans, online banking solutions, and insurance services, while the business clients of the bank may choose from a set of tailored banking solutions, including investment advisory and management, asset management, assistance on EU projects application, project financing, and direct banking solutions. The corporate and institutional clients of UniCredit are offered risk management solutions, business loans, realty investment solutions, merger and acquisition advisory, etc.

Intesa Sanpaolo Group (listed on the Italian Stock Exchange as ISP) is the second strongest player in Italy’s banking sector. Headquartered in Turin, Italy, the group started its existence after the merger of Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI in 2007. ISP now has over 108,000 employees, working in a network of offices in Italy, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean region. Banca Intesa S.p.A. has developed its activities in four main business areas. The bank’s retail banking business serves individual clients, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as non-profit organizations, offering them a package of integrated banking services, including investment banking and advisory, wealth management, business projects financing and industrial loans, while the corporate division of Banca Intesa caters for the interests of large corporations, financial institutions and institutional clients, offering them merger and acquisition advisory, asset management, capital market and merchant banking, etc.

Banca Nazionale del Lavoro is the sixth largest bank in Italy. The bank was founded in 1913 in Rome. The structure was nationalized in 1929 and then went private again in 1998. The bank existed independently until it was acquired by France’s BNP Paribas in 2006.

Banca Popolare di Milano, listed as PMI, is Italy’s second corporate bank (the first being Banca Popolare di Lodi). Founded in 1865 in Milan, the bank has about 8,000 officials and a network in 710 branches in Italy and abroad. The group’s one and a half million clients can choose among a large selection of banking services and solutions, including online banking and everyday banking solutions, property management and brokerage, mutual funds management, and merchant banking.

As a whole, the banking sector in Italy has been hard hit by the global economic crisis. According to a 2009 report of the International Monetary Fund, Ireland is the only economy in the Eurozone that is currently doing worse than Italy.

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