Italy's Intesa extends branch opening hours

MILAN Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:58am EST

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MILAN Jan 15 (Reuters) - Italy's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, is extending the opening hours of its main branches to boost productivity and reduce the number of jobs it is cutting to improve profits.

Intesa said that as of January, 100 of its branches would be open until 8 pm (1900 GMT) during the week and on Saturday morning. By June, the longer opening hours would apply to 500 branches.

This is part of a deal with unions announced in October which will save around 1,000 jobs that were at risk after Intesa said it would close or merge nearly a fifth of its Italian network of 5,100-5,200 branches.

Most Italian banks are shut on Saturdays and close to the public at 1445 GMT during the week.

Italian banks are under pressure to cut costs and reduce branch networks to revive weak profitability and adapt to the rising popularity of Internet banking.

Some 19,000 job cuts have already been announced in the industry.

Intesa said that as part of the new plan its investment advisers would be able to visit customers at home or at the workplace. (Reporting By Silvia Aloisi. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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