Intesa Sanpaolo set to expand in Romania

Italian banking giant Intesa Sanpaolo SpA is gearing up to expand its presence in Romania by doubling its footprint through the acquisition of Bucharest-based First Bank from JC Flowers & Co. This strategic move is in line with Intesa’s broader plan for European expansion. After extensive negotiations, the bank has sealed a €130 million ($138 million) deal, securing the acquisition below the book value.

Marco Elio Rottigni, the head of Intesa’s International Subsidiary Banks Division, has emphasised that this acquisition aligns with their strategy to capitalise on value-driven opportunities while sustaining organic growth. Intesa Sanpaolo already operates a unit in Romania with assets totalling €1.5 billion and a customer base of over 60,000 clients.

First Bank, previously owned by Piraeus Bank and having absorbed the smaller rival Leumi under its brand, serves a diverse clientele. Intesa Sanpaolo’s acquisition comes at a time when Romania’s banking industry has recorded record cumulative profits, surpassing 10 billion lei ($2 billion) in 2022.

It’s worth noting that the consolidation trend within the Romanian banking sector isn’t unique to Intesa Sanpaolo. UniCredit SpA has also been increasing its market share through the acquisition of Alpha Bank’s Romanian unit, with the goal of securing the third position by assets, surpassing Societe Generale’s (OTC: SCGLY) BRD unit. Additionally, OTP Bank Nyrt.’s Romanian unit has attracted the attention of potential buyers, indicating a broader trend of expansion and consolidation in the Romanian banking landscape.

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