MILAN (Reuters) -UniCredit Chief Executive Andrea Orcel on Wednesday did not rule out the Italian bank reassessing a potential acquisition of Monte dei Paschi di Siena in the future, after talks collapsed in 2021.
Monte dei Paschi is 64% owned by the Italian state, which needs to eventually cut its stake to meet re-privatisation commitments given to the European Union at the time of the bailout.
"I think Monte dei Paschi has taken a different direction in their strategy. They're going it alone at the moment. And they've raised their capital, they're rationalising the bank, they're restructuring the bank," Orcel said in an interview with CNBC.
"They're doing a good job. And that's what there is about it. So they need to do that, and then we'll see," he said when asked about a Reuters report that UniCredit was still seen as a potential buyer for Monte dei Paschi, alongside Banco BPM.
Monte dei Paschi raised 2.5 billion euros in capital in December, despite rocky markets, to finance thousands of voluntary staff exits and cut costs.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in December that the Monte dei Paschi situation had been handled badly by the previous government and a re-privatisation should help ensure that Italy has several large banking groups.
A source in Meloni's cabinet office told Reuters at the time the comment indicated the government was diffident towards Orcel given the failed negotiations - which may give an edge to Banco BPM.
Orcel praised Meloni's right wing government saying it had taken "tough" economic decisions from the start and that the 2023 budget was "quite solid and cautious."
"This is a government that has committed to follow on (previous Prime Minister Mario) Draghi's policies," he said.
(Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Gianluca Semeraro, Kirsten Donovan)