Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Intesa Sanpaolo SpA’s investment banking unit Banca IMI SpA is creating a 30-strong London-based team to advise companies on mergers and initial public offerings as the firm seeks customers beyond its home market.
The securities division of Intesa, Italy’s second-biggest bank, this year hired Wieland Janssens, formerly of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, to head coverage of financial sponsors, while Alfonso Zuloaga joined from Credit Suisse Group AG as global head of energy.
“The objective is to expand our presence outside Italy and become a euro-area player,” Andrea Mayr, Banca IMI’s Milan- based head of investment banking, said in an interview. “We want to be more of a regional bank, and the firm plans more hires,” said Mayr, 48, declining to elaborate.
Banca IMI is seeking to expand in London, including creating three equity capital markets positions, as rivals such as Credit Suisse and RBS cut jobs and shed units after dealmaking in the region dried up last year, creating hiring opportunities.
Still, competing for clients outside Italy will pit Banca IMI against Wall Street firms active in the region as well as European lenders such as Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, which are also seeking to reduce their reliance on their domestic markets.
“This initiative is in line with the bank’s plan to become more international,” said Giuseppe Belfiori, head of research at FT Support Srl, an advisory firm in Milan. “The timing to form a team like that is ideal because you can hire as rivals cut jobs at a fraction of the cost of a few years ago.”
Banca IMI’s net income rose 4.6 percent in the first nine months of 2011 to 441 million euros ($583 million). Revenue rose 15 percent in the period to 942.6 million euros, and commissions climbed 28 percent to 216.8 million euros. In the period, Banca IMI helped managed bond sales for Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa SDG SA and for the Czech Republic’s CEZ AS, and it helped underwrite Piraeus Bank SA’s stock sale in Greece.
Banca IMI’s merger advisory in London is headed by Vincenzo De Falco. Its Italian clients include Fiat SpA, the carmaker that controls Chrysler LLC, and luxury-goods maker Prada SpA.
“There will be greater growth outside Italy,” said Mayr. “The Italian market isn’t sparkling right now.”
The Italian economy entered its fourth recession since 2001, contracting more than economists estimated in the fourth quarter, as government austerity measures weighed on growth.
Mergers in Italy slumped to about $39 billion last year from $65 billion in 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show, while IPOs held steady at about $3.3 billion, the data show.
--Editors: Francis Harris, Jon Menon
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