Intesa Sanpaolo Expands Romanian Footprint With First Bank Acquisition

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Intesa Sanpaolo Expands Romanian Footprint With First Bank Acquisition
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Italian banking giant Intesa Sanpaolo (OTC: ISNPY ) SpA is set to double its presence in Romania following the acquisition of Bucharest-based First Bank (NASDAQ: FRBA ) from JC Flowers & Co. The move comes as part of Intesa's broader strategy for European expansion. After months of negotiations, the bank signed a €130 million ($138 million) agreement, securing the deal below the book value.

Marco Elio Rottigni, head of Intesa's International Subsidiary Banks Division, stated that the acquisition aligns with their strategy to seize value-driven opportunities while maintaining organic growth. The bank already operates a Romanian unit with €1.5 billion in assets and over 60,000 clients.

First Bank, which had previously been owned by Piraeus Bank and incorporated smaller rival Leumi into its brand, serves a diverse clientele. The acquisition by Intesa Sanpaolo comes amidst record cumulative profits in Romania's banking industry, which exceeded 10 billion lei ($2 billion) in 2022.

The consolidation trend within the Romanian banking sector is not exclusive to Intesa Sanpaolo. UniCredit SpA has also increased its market share through the acquisition of Alpha Bank's Romanian unit. Their aim is to secure the No. 3 spot by assets, surpassing Societe Generale (OTC: SCGLY )'s BRD unit. Similarly, OTP Bank Nyrt.'s Romanian unit has caught the attention of potential buyers.

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