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Top banking CEO warns of further volatility and predicts more U.S. rescues


Andrea Orcel, chief executive officer of UniCredit.

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A top banking executive highlighted a possible divergence in fortunes for the finance sector in both Europe and the U.S., suggesting that more rescues of American regional lenders are likely.

“In the U.S., it is about distressed banks being rescued, I don’t see any distressed bank being rescued in Europe,” Andrea Orcel, the CEO of UniCredit, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche Wednesday.

“I do think in the U.S., judging from yesterday, there may be more.”

JPMorgan on Monday acquired a substantial majority of assets of First Republic, which included about $92 billion of deposits. The seizure of First Republic came after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and an overall concern about the stability of smaller American banks amid higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve. Leading economists have told CNBC that further rate increases could expose more fragilities in the U.S. banking sector.

But banking authorities in the European Union, where Italy’s UniCredit is headquartered, have repeatedly said they do not see the same level of risk in the region, arguing European banks are well-capitalized and face stronger regulation.

They have also stressed that the intervention by UBS to buy and rescue Credit Suisse happened outside the European Union, in Swizterland.

“You may see some more of these [rescues] in the U.S., in my opinion, but in Europe that kind of acquisition is not going to be the driver of consolidation,” Orcel told CNBC.

He added that after the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, currently the biggest risk to the outlook is volatility.

The comments from UniCredit’s chief come after the Italian lender reported its latest results Wednesday. Net profit for the first quarter came in at 2.06 billion euros ($2.27 billion) in the first quarter — a jump of more than 41% from the previous quarter. The bank also reported a CET capital 1 ratio, a measure of bank solvency, at 16.05% for the quarter.

UniCredit shares jumped around 5% on Wednesday following the results.

Source: CNBC