State-owned Monte dei Paschi joined fellow Italian banks in a start-of-year bond issuance rush on Wednesday, paying an 8% coupon to sell a junior bond to fulfil commitments under its bailout agreement, Reuters reported. Italian lenders, including UniCredit, Banco BPM and UBI Banca, have sold higher risk and relatively costlier debt this month, taking advantage of investors’ moves to start to spend their new year budgets.
In 2012 eurozone leaders vowed to break the “doom loop” by which national governments and their banking systems could drag each other down in a financial crisis, the Financial Times reported. This began the long journey towards a banking union in which taxpayers would no longer be on the hook for failing banks. Had the leaders fully understood what they were signing up for, they may not even have started.
Italian infrastructure group Atlantia on Friday suffered its second debt downgrade in a month, slipping further into junk territory, as the government considers revoking the group’s motorway concession following a deadly bridge collapse, Reuters reported. Controlled by Italy’s Benetton family and in charge of the country’s biggest motorway network, Atlantia SpA (ATL.MI) has been in the crosshairs since a concrete bridge operated by its Autostrade per l’Italia unit collapsed in the city of Genoa in August 2018, killing 43 people.
The steady decline of Italy’s South, one of Europe’s poorest regions, is emerging as a critical issue for the country’s fragile governing coalition, as banking and industrial troubles there provide a possible opening for a hard-right party seeking to return to power, The Wall Street Journal reported. In recent weeks, the Italian government has said it will take over an important southern bank to save it from collapse, and it is fighting to keep alive Europe’s biggest steel plant and a large factory in Naples.
In Rome’s central shopping street, Via del Corso, Maria Lipari is looking for a scarf to give to her daughter for Christmas. Like many Italians, she prefers to pay for her festive gifts the old-fashioned way — with cash. But the Italian government hopes to persuade her to change. Italy has one of Europe’s lowest rates of usage of card payments, with 86 per cent of transactions paid for using notes and coins, according to central bank estimates, the Financial Times reported.
The Italian government is on the verge of an outright battle with the company that operates more than half of the country’s aging toll roads, Bloomberg News reported. After Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s administration provisionally approved rules on the revocation of highway concessions, operator Autostrade per L’Italia said Dec. 22 they appeared unconstitutional and contrary to European Union norms and would result in the “legal termination” of the concession agreement.
A source close to Atlantia's motorway unit warned on Monday the company would go bankrupt if the government revoked its concession without compensation following the deadly collapse of a bridge last year, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The source said that the company, Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI), would be unable to pay back 10.8 billion euros ($12 billion) in debt if it were stripped of its motorway concession without receiving any indemnity.
UniCredit, Italy’s largest lender, said it plans to cut 8,000 jobs and seek regulatory approval for a share buyback that will be seen as a litmus test for the wider European banking sector, the Financial Times reported. The moves were part of a four-year strategic plan unveiled by chief executive Jean Pierre Mustier on Tuesday, which will also lead to the closure of 500 branches in an effort to save €1bn of costs in Western Europe.