UniCredit is unlikely to pursue a deal for Moscow-based lender Otkritie Bank. This was heard after Russian daily Kommersant reported that Italy’s second-biggest bank had lost interest. UniCredit has been operating in Russia since 1989. They had accessed Otkritie’s books earlier with a view to possibly taking on parts of its business.
A three-week analysis of Otkritie’s financial data will be concluded at the end of January. Russia’s central bank is looking to divest the lender through a sale or a public listing after rescuing it in 2017. Russian business daily Kommersant reported that UniCredit, which has been led since April by Chief Executive Officer Andrea Orcel, was no longer interested in doing a deal. This was set to be the outcome of the due diligence analysis being carried out. UniCredit shares were down 2.4%. This is although they were still outperforming the wider Italian banking sector, which was down 3.0%.
Bestinver analyst Fabrizio Bernardi said that this is bang in line with their thoughts. Geopolitical tensions between Russia and NATO are material and they believe that an expansion into Russia is the last thing that Orcel has in mind. They also believe that the only reason why UniCredit was mentioned to have an interest is that the bank is for sale and UniCredit already has a presence in Russia. And so, it was invited to see the M&A dossier and increase the number of potential bidders.
News of UniCredit’s possible interest had irked markets. UniCredit, Italy’s only bank deemed of systemic relevance by regulators. It is due to publish full-year results on Friday. Analysts expect a 1.15 billion euro fourth-quarter loss due to restructuring charges the bank will book under a new strategic plan Orcel unveiled in December.