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Italy's Banca BPER CEO vows to speed up bad-loan disposals

BPER Banca SpA CEO Alessandro Vandelli vowed to speed up bad-loan disposals at the Italian bank after a smaller-than-expected reduction in the first half.

Gross nonperforming exposures totaled €6.9 billion as of the end of June 2019, compared with €7 billion at the end of 2018, while the NPE ratio was 13.7% compared with 13.8% six months previously.

Speaking to analysts on a conference call, Vandelli said that the bank aimed to bring the NPE ratio down to single digits by mid-2020.

"We are committed to accelerating de-risking and are confident that we can deliver successfully," he said.

BPER completed the sale of a €1.0 billion portfolio of bad loans to credit servicer UnipolReC SpA in a deal which completed after the end of the reporting period. It simultaneously completed the acquisition of Unipol Banca SpA from Unipol Gruppo SpA.

The deals will help BPER bring its NPE ratio to a pro forma 11.8%, Vandelli said.

Unipol does not have any legacy issues and is a "clean" bank, Vandelli said, adding that the deal would help with the improvement of BPER's overall asset quality as well as building scale and broadening the client base.

Commenting on plans to shed toxic debt during the remainder of 2019, Vandelli said the bank was looking into sales of both bad loans and unlikely-to-pay loans in the form of portfolio sales and single-issuer deals.

BPER turned a first-half profit of €100.5 million, which it said was not directly comparable to the €307.9 million profit reported a year earlier due to the nonrecurring gains.