September 15, 2017 / 4:28 PM / 10 months ago

Lindorff/Intrum Justitia eyes Italian debt collection business

VENICE, Italy, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Lindorff/Intrum Justitia would be interested in buying an Italian bank’s debt collection business to expand in the country, the head of the Scandinavian group’s Italian unit said.

Swedish debt collection firm Intrum Justitia this year bought Norwegian rival Lindorff to create a firm with more than 8,000 employees and operations in 23 European states.

“We would like to be among the top three players in the Italian market in three-to-five years’ time,” Lindorff/Intrum Justitia’s managing director for Italy, Antonella Pagano, said.

Italy’s 350 billion euro ($418 billion) impaired debt market has attracted interest from international investors hunting for high returns from risky assets that banks are under pressure to shed.

Buying a bank’s debt collection business would allow the Scandinavian firm to expand quickly, Pagano said on the sidelines of Banca IFIS’s annual meeting on the Italian non-performing loan market, held in Venice.

“That’s what we did in Spain where Lindorff bought Santander’s (debt collection) platform Aktua. We are interested in similar assets with a long-term management contract,” she said.

Pagano declined to say whether Lindorff/Intrum Justitia would bid for Banca Carige’s debt collection platform, which is up for sale with a 1.4 billion euro bad loan portfolio.

A Carige executive said on Friday more than 30 investors had looked at the portfolio, with about 20 expected to submit non-binding bids.

Banca IFIS forecasts bad loan sales in Italy this year could reach a record 104 billion euros in terms of gross book value.

DoBank, whose top investor is U.S. group Fortress Investment, is Italy’s largest debt collection firm with 80 billion euros of assets under management, IFIS data show.

Cerved Credit Management follows with 12 billion euros, while others manage less than 10 billion euros each.

($1 = 0.8365 euros)

Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Edmund Blair

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