MILAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Intesa Sanpaolo is planning to refinance in full 11 billion euros ($14 billion) in wholesale bonds coming to maturity in 2018, the chief financial officer of Italy’s biggest retail bank said on Thursday.
Stefano Del Punta told Reuters in a phone interview the bank did not have large refinancing needs this year, as it was still relying on cheap funding provided by the European Central Bank.
“Our aim is to keep investors in Europe, United States and Asia interested in our debt,” he said, after Intesa Sanpaolo sold a four-tranche bond in yen worth around 350 million euros.
This follows a three-part bond issued last month on the U.S. market for $2.5 billion.
Del Punta said Intesa would also use debt issues privately placed via its private banking network to refinance a portion of 4 billion euros in retail bonds maturing this year so that overall issuance was expected at 12-13 billion euros.
“That’s well below what the bank could potentially issue in the course of a year,” he said.
Del Punta said the bank aimed to keep its holdings of Italian government bonds at the current level of between 40 and 50 percent of its overall sovereign portfolio, after reducing that share in recent years to get ahead of possible future regulatory moves to reduce the link between banks and sovereign issuers.
He dismissed the idea that the reduction could be driven by any Italy-specific risk and added the limit was not set in stone.
“If we wanted to increase our holdings back to, say, 60 percent following events such as an upcoming general election in Italy because we think markets are overpricing political risks, we could do it” Del Punta said.
Italians head to the polls on March 4.
$1 = 0.8110 euros Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Mark Potter