The Bank of Italy has dealt the coup de grace to Italian insurer Unipol's E8 billion bid to buy Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL). The decision comes after months of deliberation about the deal as hopes of a speedy resolution to the merger battle were scuppered by the recent scandals in the country's banking sector.
The BNL bid becomes the second domestic banking takeover to be derailed in recent months, following the high profile attempts by the Italian central bank to favor Banco Popolare ahead of ABN Amro in the tussle for Banca Antonveneta – the fallout from which cost Bank of Italy governor Antonio Fazio his job.
Indeed, the Unipol-BNL has been subject to allegations that the central bank favored an all-Italian tie-up, after an initial approach for BNL by the Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) was rejected. News that Unipol’s bid has collapsed may prompt BBVA to make a fresh bid.
The Bank of Italy did not make public its reasons for throwing the merger out, though some analysts had expressed concerns that the insurer would struggle to amalgamate the much larger BNL, and that the likely synergies between the two were exaggerated.