Italy's Intesa signs accord with unions to cut staff

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The Intesa Sanpaolo logo is seen in Milan, Italy, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

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MILAN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Italy's top bank, Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI), said it had reached an accord with unions paving the way for the early exit of 2,000 staff that will be partly offset by 1,100 new hires by the end of 2025.

The move comes ahead of a new business plan Intesa will present in February following the acquisition last year of rival UBI, which gave it control of more than a fifth of the domestic market.

Intesa said in a statement late on Tuesday that, taking into account another agreement signed in 2020 after the UBI deal, a total of 9,200 people would leave the group by the first quarter of 2025 and 4,600 people would join by December of that year.

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"We took early action before the new business plan where we think digitalisation will play an important role," Giuseppe Milazzo, secretary general of Italy's main banking union FABI, said in a statement.

Under the accord, Intesa employees who reach the pension age by December 2028 can opt to leave. The exits are all voluntary, and the new hires will have a permanent contract.

"We have one of the biggest generational change programmes in Italy," Intesa's chief operating officer, Paola Angeletti, said.

Citi analyst Azzurra Guelfi calculated Intesa could save around 200 million euros pre-tax thanks to the latest accord, with a negative impact on core capital of around 10 basis points. Writing in a note to clients, Guelfi described that as "manageable given the group's strong capital position."

Shares in Intesa were flat in early trade in line with the sector (.FTITLMS3010).

After announcing earlier this month that it had met its 2021 profit goals ahead of target, Intesa said it would use the money in the year's final quarter to cover restructuring charges and loan loss provisions to prepare for the new business plan. read more

Italian banks traditionally lay off people on a voluntary basis only, using a costly scheme that allows older workers to retire early and receive up to 90% of their salary until they qualify for pension.

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Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Francesca Landini and Leslie Adler & Simon Cameron-Moore

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