Intesa Sanpaolo Earnings Call Nuggets: Liquidity Reserves and Opportunities

Intesa Sanpaolo (NYSE:ISP) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Liquidity Reserves

Matteo Ramenghi – UBS: I have one question on loan growth and another one on Hungary. On loan growth, I think you explained your plan to release the liquidity reserves. I was wondering how much of those are going into lending and also, if your feeling is that, at this moment, most of the nonperforming loan flows are driven by revenue contraction as opposed to a bit of a credit crunch, which is happening at the moment? On Hungary, I was just wondering if there is any update on your presence there.

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Enrico Tommaso Cucchiani – MD and CEO: Let me take the first question on Hungary; no significant news to report other than an aggressive program is underway. If we have news worth reporting, we’ll report them in due time. Carlo, you want to take on the investment of – the issue on…

Carlo Messina – General Manager and CFO: On the issue of the investment of EUR20 billion cash that we have now, the first point of our potential investment is to use liquidity in order to increase asset under management. So no push on deposits but put on asset under management. Then the second point would be the reimbursement of a portion of the LTRO, especially the portion that we have with guarantee of government. It’s something like EUR20 billion, and then a slight increase in government bond portfolio and at the end if we have good demand from loan, it is possible also to use for lending.

Opportunities

Andrea Filtri – Mediobanca: I’ll try to be quick. Can you update us on how many branch closures are still pending in your plans? What is the Q1 ’13 P&L contribution of carry trade and how far are you willing to expand it further? I’m referring to Slide 31. Why is the deposit hedged on EUR40 million Q-on-Q? Should we expect this to develop for the rest of 2013 and 2014 assuming rates remain as they are right now? How do you explain the positive development of new interest of bad loans despite the difficult scenario that you described at the beginning of the presentation? Do you expect this to continue in Q2? Finally, if we can interpret your statement that your open to opportunities as a way to (say that Europe and) external growth outside of Italy?

Enrico Tommaso Cucchiani – MD and CEO: Can you repeat the last question please?

Andrea Filtri – Mediobanca: Yes. I was reading before that someone from the Company stated that Intesa is open to opportunities. Can we interpret this as openness to looking for external growth outside of Italy?

Enrico Tommaso Cucchiani – MD and CEO: Let me take the last two questions and then I’ll turn to Carlo for the others. The question on the drop on net NPL flows, I believe that it reflects – I mean the drop was quite significant, almost by one-third. I would say we were also positively surprised by the magnitude of the drop, but not by the fact that they went down. This reflects a series of actions that we’ve put in place all along the credit value chain. I would not – I think it is too early to claim victory. I generally tend to be very conservative, as you know, and the most conservative among all colleagues. I would prefer to see the numerical evidence of few quarters before drawing definite conclusions. But let us say that I find the development encouraging and I believe and I like to believe that it is directly associated to our action. Concerning the fact – I mean, I think that your interpretation that we are open to external growth, non-organic growth opportunities, I think it is a little bit too liberal and I’ll confine my comment to that. I’ll pass it on now to Carlo.

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Carlo Messina – General Manager and CFO: Yes, so talking about the branch, we have already closed 461 branches, 93 in the first quarter 2013 and we plan to close another 632 branches over the next couple of years of which 217 in second quarter 2013. Then talking about the carry-trade; carry trade, if you look at the profit from tradings because the real impact in this quarter we had in the figures of profit of tradings. There’s a specific slide in our detailed information presentation, is page number – just to be sure to give you; Page number 12 – is the page in which you can find the profit from proprietary trading and treasury. So the amount – sorry, it’s 44, it’s the 44 pages of all the presentation, you have the detail of the profit on tradings. All the proprietary trading and treasury results is related to disposal of government bond portfolio that we made in the first two months of the year. So having a negative impact on net interest margin by the very positive impact on profit from trading and this is the result of what we have already announced as our strategy. We’re not managing net interest margin. We’re managing all the amount of revenue. So the combination of net interest margin and profit from trading. Then having in my hedging the reduction of the hedging is due to the reduction of the hedging facilities EUR7 billion. That at the end of last year we had a capital gain of EUR340 million by the reduction of the hedging facility, the EUR7 billion and of course, if you have EUR7 billion of lower amount of hedging you have a lower amount of contribution to the net interest margin.