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MILAN Oct 3 Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo is not interested in buying other lenders in Italy, its new chief executive told business daily Il Sole-24 Ore on Thursday, contradicting media reports it might be interested in deals.
"We have no plans to buy or merge with banks in Italy," Carlo Messina said in his first interview since taking over at the helm of Italy's largest retail bank this week.
Last Sunday, Intesa Sanpaolo ousted Enrico Cucchiani as CEO after he clashed with the powerful chairman of the lender's supervisory board and several shareholders.
Messina denied the bank had ambitions with regard to struggling domestic rival Monte dei Paschi di Siena, adding such rumours were pure fantasy also for foreign players.
"I categorically exclude being interested in (Germany's) Commerzbank," Messina added.
Messina, formerly chief financial officer at the bank and the first insider to be appointed CEO, also said paying a dividend remained a priority for the bank.
The 51-year old added the bank would continue to do its part to help kickstart the Italian economy by continuing to lend.
"Overall loans to families and Italian companies is 420 billion euros, just less than one-third of Italian GDP," he said.
Like other Italian banks, Intesa Sanpaolo has come under pressure from non-performing loans as Italy's longest recession in 60 years takes its toll on the balance sheet.
Messina, who noted the bank's BOT and BTP bond portfolio stood at 60 billion euros, said the bank would unveil a new business plan in the spring of 2014.
"The bank will have a new business plan ready, which has been postponed for years due to poor visibility of the macroeconomic outlook," he said. (Reporting by Jennifer Clark and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by David Cowell and mark Potter)