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Intesa CEO rules out interest in eastern European assets

MILAN, Aug 4 – The head of Intesa Sanpaolo on Tuesday dismissed a press report that said the bank could look at a cross-border deals in eastern Europe after its takeover of smaller rival UBI Banca.

“We have no interest for eastern Europe,” CEO Carlo Messina told a media call.

Messina said Intesa would focus on integrating UBI in the short term. He also said cross-border deals were unlikely to happen in Europe in the next six to nine months while banks grappled with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

Intesa overcame regulatory hurdles and shareholder and management opposition to finally secure control of UBI last week in a deal that will turn it into the euro zone’s eighth-largest bank by assets.

Messina said he objected to analysts who said the UBI deal was not transformational for Intesa because it put the lender among Europe’s top players in terms of market value.

“We’ve overtaken Santander in terms of terms of market capitalisation … that’s something we’re proud of,” he said.

(Reporting by Valentina Za and Adrea Mandala;)

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