After leaving Credit Suisse, Mediobanca is tempting

The former Credit Suisse chairman becomes a consultant at the Italian Mediobanca. His main task will be to work behind the scenes to ensure that the small but fine investment bank makes international headway.

Advises the Italian Mediobanca: Former CS President António Horta-Osório.

Christoph Ruckstuhl / NZZ / photographer team

The Italian investment bank Mediobanca has pulled off a coup by hiring the long-time Lloyds boss and short-term Chairman of the Credit Suisse Board of Directors António Horta-Osório (58) as a consultant. It should be the Portuguese’s job to advance the corporate customer business and investment banking of the Italians internationally.

Horta-Osório is on friendly terms with Mediobanca CEO Alberto Nagel; both have lived in London for many years. Mediobanca is Italy’s leading investment bank and is involved in almost all major current deals in the country, from the restructuring of Ita Airways to the delisting of infrastructure operator Atlantia to the Autogrill-Dufry merger. Investment banking makes Mediobanca, measured by the expense ratio, one of the most profitable banks in Europe.

Horta-Osório is responsible for the international

By acquiring a majority stake in the investment boutique Messier Maris & Associés, Mediobanca has moved up to number three in France in 2019. Horta-Osório is now to contribute his large international network of contacts as well as his many years of experience and expertise in order to further advance the bank. The Lloyds CEO could also be helpful when the European consolidation process in the banking sector begins, according to Mediobanca.

Horta-Osório is considered the savior of Lloyds Bank, which he managed from 2011 to 2021. In 2021 he was knighted by the British Queen. But the married father of three, who has also worked for Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Santander, also has a downside.

At Lloyds he got into trouble because of an extramarital affair. At Credit Suisse, he had to resign as chairman after a little more than eight months because of repeated violations of corona quarantine rules. However, his extensive expertise is undisputed, and as a senior advisor to Mediobanca, he is not as much in the spotlight as he is at Credit Suisse.

He also does not have to start as a reorganizer at the respected Milan bank. Rather, it is intended to make a successful institute that is presenting very stable figures despite growing uncertainties and volatile financial markets even more successful. The bank relies on very wealthy entrepreneurial families and the three pillars of corporate & investment banking, asset management and consumer loans. The latter developed very strongly after the corona pandemic.

There are many synergies between investment banking and wealth management. Mediobanca advises many of Italy’s 600 richest entrepreneurial families, for example on a sale or an IPO, and at the same time manages their assets. It has more than 80 billion euros in assets under management.

In order to expand the range of services, Mediobanca has made acquisitions in the field of alternative investments: Ram Active Investors in Switzerland, Cairn Capital and Bybrook Capital. Further acquisitions are planned.

The bank is also increasingly focusing on private equity: investments in unlisted companies with high growth potential. Furthermore, Mediobanca has entered into a partnership with the US fund giant Blackrock in order to expand investment opportunities outside of Italy

The ex-CS President has nothing to do with the power struggle

The net profit of the relatively small bank rose by 18.5 percent to EUR 716 million in the first three quarters of the 2021/2022 financial year (as at the end of June). A third of this was contributed by the 12.8 percent stake in the insurance company Generali. This stake is not strategic, but a capital reserve that could be sold in the event of a major acquisition.

Mediobanca’s commitment to Generali is not without controversy. Entrepreneur Leonardo Del Vecchio, who has just died, tried at the end of April, together with the building contractor Francesco Caltagirone, to take power at Generali, but failed. At the Mediobanca General Assembly in October, the Del Vecchio successors and Caltagirone could now try. to take power at Mediobanca.

But Horta-Osório doesn’t have to worry about that. As a strategic advisor, he has nothing to do with it, and the chances of a change of power are considered slim.

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