Once the merger is completed in June, do you think the new bank will be a contender for third-place in assets?
For profitability, we will be in the race for first position, not only third. But strictly looking at assets, I believe we will always be one of the top five players in the system. I cannot say what is the exact position we will occupy – we might be higher or lower depending on our evolution each year.
Local banks invest aggressively in increasing their number of branches. What plans does UniCredit have regarding its offices once the merger is completed?
We do have plans for organic growth. We aim to cover all the counties, but we do not wish to have an explosion of branches this year.
We have invested aggressively in our expansion and succeeded in this triple-merger between HVB Bank, Banca Tiriac and UniCredit Romania. While other banks opted for organic growth, we chose to grow faster through acquisition.
Does the fact that you are not investing heavily this year in territorial expansion give you a comparative advantage over those banks that have and continue to invest?
Yes and no. It depends on when they started their organic growth. If it happened several years ago and now the branches already make profits, the impact of their growth will show this year. In any case, the costs of expansion take several years to meet and effects are felt over extended periods of time.
What are your plans for this year regarding mortgages now that central bank regulations have been relaxed?
We want to introduce certain differences for various categories of clients, but we will only do this in such a way that the risk remains manageable. Mortgages represent a strategic product for us. Still, I do not think a loan that requires no advance payment is doable.