Carlo Messina’s recipe: more real economy and more social equals more profits and more dividends

Italy’s most important bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, marks a record 2023 with a +76.4% net profit, €7.2 billion. And the trend for the first three months of 2024 is even better. Francesco Profumo chairman of Isybank

by Robert Crowe

Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest bank and one of Europe’s largest lenders, closes 2023 celebrating its most profitable year ever, with net profit hitting a record €7.72 billion, up 76.4% from €4.4 billion in 2022. Carlo Messina, the institution’s CEO, highlighted Intesa Sanpaolo’s positioning as the European leader in dividend yield. “It is important to emphasise,” he told analysts, “that around 40 per cent of our dividends go to Italian families and foundations that are shareholders, fostering significant social interventions in their territories.”

Messina then turned his gaze to the near future: “Forecasts for 2024 and 2025 are for a net profit in excess of 8 billion. In 2024 we will continue to design new strategies as a European leader, maintaining our commitment to the most important project for social cohesion in the country, with significant benefits for all stakeholders. Net profit in 2023 was EUR 7.7 billion, the best year ever; considering the EUR 300 million committed in 2023 to the social project, net profit is close to EUR 8 billion”.

The recipe of Intesa’s leader is simple and effective: the bank supports the real economy and businesses with medium- and long-term credit disbursements of more than EUR 40 billion in 2023 and has assisted some 3,600 companies in overcoming periods of temporary difficulties, helping to safeguard many jobs.

In addition, direct and indirect taxes paid during the year reached EUR 4.6 billion, an increase of EUR 1.4 billion compared to 2022, reflecting a greater contribution to the public budget. Meanwhile, attention to social issues is and remains one of the bank’s strong points (which in five years, both directly and through the shareholder Foundations, has disbursed one and a half billion euro to projects aimed at helping the weakest throughout the country), together with its focus on training and the welfare of its employees, who remain the protagonists also in technological innovation in which the bank is at the forefront.

In fact, Isybank, the group’s fully digital bank, has already become a leader in the sector in a very short time. And Messina has just appointed Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and Rector of the Turin Polytechnic, a very innovation-oriented person, as Chairman.

As far as shareholder remuneration is concerned, Intesa Sanpaolo expects a significant return in terms of cash. In detail, the bank will propose to the shareholders’ meeting to distribute dividends for a total of EUR 5.4 billion, divided between an interim payment of EUR 2.6 billion paid in November 2023 and a balance of EUR 2.8 billion scheduled for May 2024.

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