Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo offers to buy smaller rival

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MILAN (AP) — Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo announced Tuesday a 4.9 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) takeover offer for smaller rival UBI Banca - an unexpected move, even if experts have long called for consolidation in the sector.

The Intesa SanPaolo share-swap offer values UBI Banca shares at a 28% premium. Intesa SanPaolo said in a statement that it aims to create "a new leader in sustainable and inclusive growth’’ with greater scale.

Intesa SanPaolo, Italy’s second-largest bank by assets but its largest lender, launched the offer late Monday, after UBI Banca announced a new business plan to cut 2,000 jobs and cut operating costs by 6%.

“Our industry, at a European level, has entered a phase that requires greater scale, increased investment capacity and a focus on socially sustainable finance in order to excel,’’ Intesa SanPaolo CEO Carlo Messina said in a statement. He lauded UBI Banca management and said they ”can expect notable opportunities inside the new group.’’

The two banks together have total loans to customers of 460 billion euros, and more than 1.1 trillion euros in savings accounts, with combined revenues of 21 billion euros.

Messina said that the new bank would deliver profits of 6 billion euros in 2022, accelerate the reduction of bad loans and increase capital strength. He promised shareholders a dividend of 0.20 euros a share for this year, and above that for next year.

The new company also aims to increase financing for environmentally-focused projects from 50 billion euros to 60 billion euros.

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