Italian lender Intesa Sanpaolo is eyeing additional acquisitions in the Swiss private banking space, while halting its expansion in other European countries.

The bank may takeover small private banks in Switzerland, Intesa Sanpaolo CEO Carlo Messina told Bloomberg TV in an interview.

The news comes as Intesa prepared to unveil a new business plan in February 2022 following the takeover of mid-tier peer UBI last year.

According to Messina, even if additional domestic acquisitions will allow it to boost profits, the bank lacks the opportunity for further expansion majorly owing to its large market share.

He also pointed out that there is little chance for foreign growth as digitalisation of banking sector made retail footprint inessential unless the branches are used for the sale of insurance and wealth management offerings.

Messina commented: “So in theory private banking and asset management targets would be of interest for the company (outside of Italy) but prices embedded in these targets are so high that it makes it impossible to create value for shareholders for the time being.”

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By GlobalData

However, Messina sees potential for deals in the Swiss private banking space.

He said that the bank is looking to grow its Swiss footprint through the selective takeover of ‘really small and selective’ targets in the country.

Last year, Intesa’s private banking unit Fideuram acquired private bank REYL & Cie following the takeover of Banque Morval in 2017.

In this June, ECB and FINMA granted approval for a strategic partnership between Fideuram and REYL & Cie.

This deal will see REYL & Cie taking over the Swiss banking subsidiary Intesa Sanpaolo Private Bank (Suisse) Morval (ISPBM). The merger is expected to complete by the end of the year.