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ALPHA BANK

Alpha Bank – Unicredit: Expansion in Romania and other markets

Six months after the announcement of the Unicredit-Alpha Bank deal, the partnership has room to expand beyond the original plan.

As Unicredit CEO Andrea Orcel said in a joint interview with Alpha Bank CEO Vasilis Psaltis, after the creation of the third largest banking group in Romania, Unicredit and Alpha Bank may work together for another acquisition in this country, after the integration of their two units is completed.

“We are both committed to Romania, we both like Romania, and we both see added value there,” UniCredit SpA CEO Orcel said in an interview.

For Andrea Orcel, an excellent negotiator, the deal with Alpha Bank is probably one of the smallest transactions of his career. But it highlights his creative approach at a time when national interests and the unfinished business of a European banking union often stand in the way of cross-border deals. Born out of a desire to boost UniCredit’s size in Romania, the deal with Alpha Bank has evolved into a partnership that Orcel says could become a model for how the Italian bank enters new markets.

For Alpha Bank, whose plans to expand in Romania were frozen during the financial crisis in Greece, this deal is a way to create added value.

“I’m very, very happy with what we’ve done,” Orcel said, calling the acquisition of a minority stake in Alpha a “pilot” program for new purchases. “There may be other markets where we are interested in developing directly in Central Eastern Europe.”

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