UniCredit suffers net loss of 11.8B euros in 2016

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MILAN: Italy’s UniCredit, which is in the midst of a vast restructuring, said Thursday it suffered a net loss of 11.8 billion euros ($12.6 billion) last year.

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The lender had signalled last month that it would post such a huge loss as it takes 13.1 billion euros in charges to clean up its books.

Frenchman Jean-Pierre Mustier, who took over at the helm of UniCredit as chief executive in July, has been overseeing a major strategic restructuring called “Transform 2019”.

The bank plans to slash 14,000 jobs by the end of 2019 and offload 17.7 billion euros of bad debts, and has already performed several asset sales as part of its efforts to shore up its finances.

It launched this week a 13-billion-euro share issue to help boost its capital base. The bank’s head of strategy Marina Natale said late Wednesday that management was “serene” about the operation.

On Thursday, the bank confirmed the restructuring plan’s objectives remained unchanged.

“We took a number of decisive actions regarding legacy and operational issues to ensure the future success of the group,” Mustier said in a statement, calling 2016 a “pivotal year” for the bank.

“The underlying business held up well in 2016, supported by active cost savings measures and positive inflows, which underlines the strength of the UniCredit brand,” he said.

Excluding the 13.1 billion euros in one-off items, the bank earned a net profit of 1.3 billion in 2016.

Unicredit’s shares gained 0.2 percent in afternoon trading in Milan, where the main index was up a similar amount.

Italy’s banking sector has suffered a nightmare year in 2016, notably for Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS), the world’s oldest bank, which is set to be nationalised after a failed recapitalisation bid in December.

Investor confidence in Italy was shaken by the collapse of Matteo Renzi’s government late last year, although the situation eased late last month after the government approved a 20-billion-euro bailout plan to rescue the country’s struggling banks.

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