(Adds other CEO comments, background)
MILAN, July 10 Unicredit, Italy's
biggest bank, could draw on 14-15 billion euros of the European
Central Bank's new long-term refinancing operations, the bank's
CEO said on Thursday.
"These are numbers we're still trying to determine fully but
I think that at the group level we could reach 14-15 billion
euros, about half of which in Italy," Federico Ghizzoni told La
A spokesman for the bank confirmed his comments.
In June, the ECB said it would give European banks fresh
access to long-term loans with the aim of improving lending to
euro zone companies.
Italian companies have been hard hit by the economic crisis
as banks cut back lending to put a lid on the growth of
Ghizzoni said the bank would use the ECB funding to help
provide businesses with loans for investments in their
"If, for example, the ECB cash costs us 50 basis points less
(than on the market) we would be ready to pass on most of this
"discount" to businessmen," Ghizzoni said.
UniCredit, like other Italian lenders, has been selling
portfolios of bad loans to try and strengthen its balance sheet.
Ghizzoni told La Stampa in the first quarter of the year,
for the first time in seven years, problematic loans had stopped
growing. "The trend in the second quarter also seems to be good
and in line with the first," Ghizzoni said.
He said the bank was always on the market for the sale of
"We did a billion and a half in the first quarter and we
should soon be doing other operations for a similar amount,
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Oleg Vukmanovic and