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UPDATE 2-Italy's Intesa hits 2020 profit goal early, before UBI boost

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MILAN, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo said on Wednesday it had already met its 2020 profit goal, even before taking into account its acquisition of rival UBI, helped by a post-lockdown rebound in third-quarter core revenue.

In the first nine months, net profit totalled 3.1 billion euros ($3.6 billion), just ahead of the target set for the whole year, without including the UBI deal.

The bank won a tough takeover battle for UBI in August, snapping up Italy’s healthiest second-tier lender in a paper-and-cash deal that cemented its domestic dominance, especially in the wealthy north.

Intesa reaped a paper profit equal to 3.3 billion euros on a provisional basis in the three months through September from buying UBI at a discount to the target’s book value, for a stated net profit of 3.8 billion euros.

It said it would use the earnings boost to cover integration costs in the current quarter as it creates Italy’s biggest banking group, providing roughly a fifth of all main products.

Stripped of that and the contribution from UBI in August and September, net profit stood at 507 million euros in the third quarter, roughly half what it was a year ago but ahead of an average 466-million-euro forecast in a Reuters analyst survey.

“Intesa reported a beat to consensus estimates from quality items on standalone basis,” Mediobanca Securities said in a note, adding “costs were firmly under control”.

Excluding UBI, Intesa’s net income from lending rose 4% both on a quarterly and a yearly basis helped by funds borrowed at negative rates from the European Central Bank.

Fees rebounded by 7% from the second quarter when Italy suffered a prolonged lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19 .

CEO Carlo Messina said Intesa was well placed to resume paying dividends when regulators allowed it, after core capital strengthened to 15.2% of assets in September.

$1 = 0.8535 euros Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Pravin Char