TURIN, Italy Intesa Sanpaolo's (ISP.MI) chief executive said on Tuesday that Italy's biggest retail bank could become a takeover target for foreign banks unless it boosted its profitability and market capitalization.
Carlo Messina told the bank's managers that if the country's economy recovered, "some big international banks could start to look at Intesa Sanpaolo as possible prey."
Messina said the bank could boost profits by concentrating on revenue growth, including fees, and on the management of its bad loans portfolio.
"Only with growth, profit generation and an increase in the market capitalization, Intesa Sanpaolo will be able to stay independent," Messina said, according to the text of a speech he made in the northern Italian town of Turin.
Italian lenders have been hit hard by the longest recession since World War II. Intesa earns around 80 percent of its revenue in its home country.
(Reporting by Gianni Montani; Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by David Holmes)