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Italy's Nexi confirms 2023 guidance after solid start to year

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Italian payments group Nexi is pictured inside their headquarters in Milan

By Valentina Za

MILAN (Reuters) -Italian payments firm Nexi on Tuesday reported a 17% rise in retailer transaction volumes for the first eight weeks of the year as it met 2022 earnings expectations and confirmed its guidance for 2023.

Europe's biggest payments firm by volume reported a 7% rise in 2022 revenue to 3.26 billion euros ($3.5 billion) and also hit its core profit goal with a 14% jump to 1.62 billion euros.

Its core profit margin expanded by more than three percentage points to 49%.

"We start 2023 determined to grow in all geographies, increasing margins and cash generation," CEO Paolo Bertoluzzo said.

Nexi, which last month entered the Spanish market by buying the majority of Banco Sabadell's payments arm, expects core profit to grow by more than 10% this year and revenue to rise by over 7%.

Present in northern Europe through Denmark's Nets which it bought in 2021, Nexi generates more than half its revenue in Italy where it partners with banks to handle retailers' and card payments.

Under a contract to 2036, Nexi manages the Italian payments operations of UniCredit, a bank which has kept such business in house in all markets, unlike many rivals.

UniCredit CEO Andrea Orcel, who has pledged to maximise the value generated by partnerships, has turned the bank's attention to payments after streamlining insurance joint ventures and striking an alliance with asset manager Azimut.

UniCredit is also looking to streamline its various payments alliances, a person close to the matter said. UniCredit declined to comment.

Bertoluzzo said Nexi had conversations with several banks, also outside of Italy, as they constantly review their payments strategies.

"We're very happy to be part of those conversations but the basis of the relationship [with UniCredit] is a very long-term contract which is in place," he said, adding there was no break- up clause.

On Tuesday, a study by Italy's Politecnico University showed digital payments in Italy totalled 397 billion euros in 2022, up 18% from the previous year.

($1 = 0.9362 euros)

(Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely)