Oops Agreement on Ubi, all the tensions between the ECB and the Antitrust

Oops Agreement on Ubi, all the tensions between the ECB and the Antitrust

The different views of ECB-Bank of Italy and Antitrust on the Offer launched by Intesa Sanpaolo and Ubi Banca: a suitable dialectic or obsolete Tremontian reform? Francis Walsingham's analysis

Bank mergers are complex issues: the authorizations of the supervisory and control authorities are based on various aspects which, however, may change due to the time frame and the macroeconomic context. The public exchange offer that Intesa Sanpaolo launched on February 17 on the Ubi group responds to the will of the first Italian bank to further strengthen and grow in Italy, also to follow up on a precise indication received in recent years by the European Central Bank: the president of the ECB supervisory commission, Andrea Enria, asks for aggregations above all to ensure the banking sector – at European level – ever greater stability: larger entities achieve economies of scale, have greater profitability, are able to better manage the systemic shock shock. In any case, it was in Frankfurt (and no longer in Rome) that the direction of the banking sector was shifted, in a framework that is no longer only national. Enria takes decisions and determines banking policy on the basis of a very broad picture: the individual local players are evaluated and compared with supranational parameters.

The ECB has direct and total control over the 17 major banks in our country which correspond, if we take loans as a parameter, that is the main activity of a credit institution, to 80% of the Italian market (the remaining 20% refers to minor institutions, supervised by the Bank of Italy). The role of the ECB, therefore, is enormous and last Friday, in line with the times established by national rules and European rules, Enria authorized the Ops of Intesa on Ubi. The green light was expected and, on a tight lap, on Monday, Bankitalia, aligning itself, showed the green light for its part, that is, some companies controlled by Ubi.

If the indiscretions are confirmed, Ivass will also express itself positively with regard to the assets of the insurance policies that fall within the perimeter of this transaction. And even Consob, except for marginal technical considerations, would have already packed the authorization to the financial prospectus, i.e. the document with which the game will come alive: Ubi shareholders will have to decide whether to become Intesa shareholders or say no, leaving the third bank Italian in the ford. In fact, the correspondence of these days reported by the press, reveals precisely a situation of uncertainty at the top: which today claims, in an attempt to hinder the OSP, to have had contacts in 2019 with Bper (now partner of Intesa Sanpaolo) and other institutes, except then having presented a stand alone industrial plan to the market. Plan with which, in fact, he put in black and white that has no intention of growing with aggregations.

We said of the supervisory authorities: four (ECB, Bankitalia, Consob and Ivass) have already expressed their yes to Intesa or are about to publish the authorization. For now, only the Antitrust Authority is slowing down . And some questions need to be asked about the role of the Competition Authority. First of all, it is worth mentioning that the Authority has pardoned Bankitalia's power over competition in the credit sector with the savings reform (law 262/2005) : a measure, wanted by the then Minister of Economy, Giulio Tremonti, who represented a slap on Via Nazionale, an institution overwhelmed by the scandal of the summer 2005 of the neighborhood cunning, Bnl and Fiorani. The resignation of the governor Antonio Fazio was not enough for Tremonti: he actually wanted to punish Bankitalia, reducing its range of action.

And there is a question as to whether it was appropriate to have fragmented the powers in the banking sector or whether it would not have been appropriate to leave a single entity to assess market operations more broadly and organically. Evaluations that can change on the basis of the internal and international economic framework. The same competition factor assumes a different weight if weighed together with the broad scenario of a sector, in which other elements are also important for the same competitiveness of the market, such as the health of the accounts and solid budget parameters. Does the stability of the sector and of the individual groups matter more, in a long-term logic, also taking into account the safeguarding of employment, or does the immediate perspective prevail on the effects for consumers, which must all be deciphered?

After the regulatory intervention that has doubled the control functions on stability (left to Bankitalia) and on competition (assigned to the Antitrust), the paradox can be produced – as the editorialist Angelo De Mattia, former head of the particular secretariat, wrote by Antonio Fazio in the Bank of Italy – for which an operation can be approved for the profiles of stability and efficiency and will fail for those of the competition, even if efficiency is fueled by competition.

And then there is a political aspect: Italy benefits from the behavior of an administrative authority opposed to an operation already endorsed by the ECB that is pumping liquidity, even within our borders, and is buying BTPs while keeping Italian public debt under control and the spread?

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/economia/ops-intesa-su-ubi-tutte-le-tensioni-fra-bce-e-antitrust/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ops-intesa-su-ubi-tutte-le-tensioni-fra-bce-e-antitrust on Sat, 13 Jun 2020 06:16:55 +0000.