With the preventive strike last Friday filed at Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the very slow negotiation that will lead the Italian government to exit the capital of the oldest bank in the world is about to face another bend before reaching the point. It could be the last bend, but in Italy you never know. In fact, on Sunday 3 October in Siena there will be a vote for the supplementary elections and the outcome of the polls will in some way be linked to the very future of the sale negotiation, which currently sees the general manager of the Treasury, Alessandro Rivera and his team engaged with the team of Merger & Acquisition of Unicredit, led by Giacomo Marino, armed wing of the group’s CEO, Andrea Orcel.
The Treasury controls 64% of Mps. Thus, many political influences have poisoned the waters of the negotiations in the last weeks of the election campaign. Unicredit was portrayed as a foreign bank (!) And the future of many employees of Monte dei Paschi seemed to be that of dismissal, evidently forgetting the protection regulations fortunately existing in Italy, the pension slides, the severance payouts, the fund’s interventions category. All necessary interventions because, as we saw on 13 September last on these pages, if we consider the operating margin achieved by the Sienese bank and put it in relation to the number of employees, we see that among the large Italian banks, MPS is the last, detached from all others, at a level that is practically half that of the first in class, Intesa Sanpaolo.
In figures, against the 141 thousand euros of contributions from each employee of Intesa, al Monte stops at 73 thousand. In Unicredit they reach 127 thousand, at Credem 103 thousand. Data from the half-yearly report as of June 30th. On this side the facts, on the other the legitimate opinions, which everyone can express especially during the election campaign. For this reason, the hairpin bend could be the last. After that, probably, it will close.
In recent weeks, the favorite soundtrack of the Unicredit team We are only us, by Vasco Rossi. And in fact, no alternatives are seen. Marino, a past close to the Cariverona Foundation and a distant past in London, where he managed to make himself known and appreciated by the current CEO of Unicredit, Andrea Orcel, reports directly to Fiona Melrose, who in Unicredit head of group strategy, which in turn leads back to Orcel. The market alternatives are not seen and the possibility of creating a pole that brings together Carige, Popolare di Bari and a substantial part of Mps, appears at the moment as a horror film which, in order to transform itself into a film worth seeing, it would require a significant amount of financial capital that no one, at the moment, seems interested in putting. Not even a financially solid group like UnipolSai, which controls an important stake in Bper Banca (20%), is possible player in view of the constitution of a hypothetical third national pole. In fact, among the many rumors, the hypothesis is proposed that the commitment of the Modenese bank would seem to be limited, in a hypothetical Plan B, to the acquisition of a share of 130-150 bank branches currently in Monte dei Paschi, as was recently done in the folds of the acquisition of Ubi by Intesa Sanpaolo from Bper itself. A targeted acquisition to be carried out exclusively with the option of choosing branches.
Meanwhile, the downsizing of the Sienese institute continues. Last November Mps finalized the sale of a part of its real estate portfolio, consisting of 28 properties, to Ardian, a private equity and to DeA capital real estate sgr. The package also includes the headquarters in via del Corso in Rome, a few steps from the Trevi Fountain. Today, the effects of that sale, necessary to bring liquidity to the coffers and streamline the perimeter of assets, are there for all to see: the Milan office in via Santa Margherita, in the historic center, a stone’s throw from the Teatro alla Scala, where the managing director Marco Morelli and more recently Guido Bastianini had his office for years, was abandoned last June and today a large restructuring site, managed by DeA capital, which is leading the transformation. Mount drops its own flags from some of the flagship store found in the location most prestigious in Italy and is heading towards a different future, more regionalized after the hangover of the past and no longer autonomously after the accounting magic of the Mussari-Vigni management and the self-referentiality of a short-sighted foundation.
It is urgent to turn the page. This is requested by Europe, which legitimately expects compliance with the pacts signed at the time of the state bailout and also the Italian government, which cannot continue to invest public money to heal a situation generated by the ignorance of private management (unforgettable ‘purchase of Antonveneta from Santander, paid in the end over 15 billion euros, without any practice of due diligence by the buyer).
On Sunday we vote in Siena and at that point there will be 13 weeks to go until the 31st December deadline. Thirteen weeks, including bridges, to define everything in detail, on pain of losing the great tax advantage that the sale of Mps could bring to a rich and capacious buyer, such as Unicredit. The sherpa they cannot waste time, they will be at work even when the polls are open.