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2 Italian banks to create banking giant [08/28/2006]

2 Italian banks to create banking giant

TURIN, Italy (UPI) -- Two Italian banks said Saturday they planned to merge to create the largest retail bank in Italy, with $700 billion in assets.

The merger of Milan-based Banca Intesa SpA and Saopaolo IMI SpA of Turin, Italy's No. 2 and No. 3 banks respectively, would create a bank that will have a market share of more than 20 percent of Italy's domestic banking market and more than 6,000 branches, the financial Web site reports.

Intesa and Saopaolo shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger plan by the end of the year, the banks said.

The banks' boards approved the merger in separate meetings.

Under the merger plan, Intesa Chief Executive Corrado Passera will lead the combined company. The combined bank will have a total of 115,000 employees and be headquartered in Turin.

Italy's banking industry is fragmented compared with other that of other European countries.

The merger could trigger other bank mergers, some analysts said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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