Milan, June 9, 2020 – Will the Italian economy recover? Nobody has the magic sphere and Alessandro Vandelli, CEO of Bper Banca, keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground. “Today the only word that can be used is uncertainty,” answers the question.
So you can’t make predictions for now?
“The impact of the lockdown has been devastating and estimating how the recovery will be is objectively complex.”
Yet can you guess from the bank’s observatory?
«Looking at customers, I can say that the reaction to the crisis is strong, oriented towards the search for liquidity in order to face the first phase of the recovery. Companies have started up again, but there is a long way to go. ”
Are there different reactions depending on the size of companies and sectors?
«We live in a country with widespread entrepreneurship: it is a positive aspect that I believe will allow each company to find its own path of recovery. Having said that, much will also depend on the situation in other countries, given that our production system is strongly export-oriented “.
What aspects has Bper most committed to?
«In two areas above all: the moratoriums and the first support interventions up to 25 thousand euros. Bper handled 100 thousand requests for a moratorium: 10 billion mortgages, a third of private individuals and the rest of the companies. We gave an immediate response also trying to intercept the needs ».
What about liquidity?
«We have exceeded 45 thousand requests for loans under 25 thousand euros and we are going to reach a value of about one billion. We are hoping to deliver 80% of requests right now. ”
Who knocked on the door?
«All sectors. Some more than others, such as tourism, for which we immediately activated moratorium and liquidity support measures. We also intervened to use ISMEA guarantees in agriculture. ”
Bper has reached an agreement to detect 400-500 branches in case the Ops of Intesa San Paolo su Ubi is perfected. But after the Antitrust intervention, times seem to lengthen.
“Our intervention is planned downstream of an operation managed by Intesa, of which we are spectators. The process is underway and requires examination by various authorities, whose outcome must be awaited. In the meantime, I note that the ECB’s authorization for the agreement has arrived: an important step. Our original plan foresaw a capital increase in September to close the process at the end of 2020. In the coming weeks we will be able to better understand the timing ».
So you remain convinced?
“I fully confirm the strategic value of an operation that can allow us to grow in strategic areas of the country in the most efficient way, that is, by acquiring the network and customers without bearing the cost of restructuring. It is a unique and unrepeatable opportunity: among other things, we will be able to rebalance our presence in Lombardy, which is fundamental for us, with a very widespread network of branches that will allow us to be close to the communities and their service, as is the tradition of popular banks ».
Will you have to change the business plan?
“We will need a review of the 2020 targets. But having approved the plan in 2019, we had a year and two months to carry out most of the planned actions and others will be finalized in the coming months.”
«By the end of June, the beginning of July, we will transfer 1.2 billion of bad debts with a Gacs securitization. It is a further step in the derisking process. In two years we will have thus sold 5 billion of bad debts, falling below 10% of impaired loans compared to the total «.
But is the capital increase confirmed?
“The price-to-pay mechanism to take over the business unit from Intesa has been renegotiated: it is now anchored to the performance of banks on the market. This allows us to pay less if the market is depressed due to the economic situation. The capital increase, already approved by our shareholders’ meeting, is up to one billion, but in today’s conditions 500/600 million could be enough “.
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