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People and MarketsComment

Italian banks: buy Orcel


If UniCredit wanted to make a splash when choosing its new star chief executive, the timing wasn't great. The news of its board of directors nominating Andrea Orcel as designated CEO was crowded out by a bunch of redditors. Still, the appointment of a banking celebrity will be a fascinating situation to watch over the weeks and months to come.

As GlobalCapital explored, a key question will relate to UniCredit's M&A plans. Much speculation has focused on whether it will absorb the troubled Monte dei Paschi di Siena — a bank that Orcel previously advised on its purchase of Antonveneta.

However, a merger with a different Italian bank could be on the cards. One mentioned is Intesa Sanpaolo, which itself bought UBI Banca last year. A combination between these two would create a national banking giant.

Another is Mediobanca, which would boost UniCredit's investment banking offering, particularly in financial institutions M&A. Banco BPM has also been mentioned as a potential target.

Meanwhile, over in Switzerland, UBS became the first European investment bank to report its fourth quarter results last week. It was the first release of quarterly figures under new group chief executive Ralph Hamers, but investors will not see a strategic update until the second quarter.

In the investment bank, UBS made $669m in its global banking franchise for the fourth quarter, one fifth more than the analyst consensus estimate, and up a third year-on-year. Driving the growth from last year was equity capital markets, where UBS said that revenues increased by $125m and 102%. However, this actually lagged the global fee pool — which grew by 119% — and also the increases at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the US banks that like UBS are more geared towards equity.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse Asset Management has made a new hire for its direct lending group. Kevin Lawi is joining as head of origination, arriving from Canadian pension investment manager PSP Investments.

Rothschild has hired Richard Luddington as a senior adviser with a focus on on sovereigns and quasi-sovereigns. He spent the last seven years at Morgan Stanley, as a vice-chairman of global capital markets.

HSBC has hired Steven Wirth, previously global head of infrastructure at UBS, as global head of real asset fund coverage, and also made Giulio Hoffmann co-head of power, utilities and renewables for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Both posts are within the advisory and investment banking coverage team (AIBC) in the global banking division.

Finally, over at Citi, Christian Keller has been made head of markets and securities services for Germany and Austria, replacing Christian Spieler.