«Heart centralizing asset management in Italy»

gmakes confusion under the sky, but the situation does not seem excellent. You don’t need Mao Zedong to understand that the moment on the markets is anything but happy. The mess is for our business, because we’re paid to handle it. Alessandro Melzi d’Eril CEO of Anima Holding and of the operating subsidiary Anima Sgr since April 2020: 175 billion euro of assets under management and a history that has its roots in the early 80s of the last century. And that in the past few days there has been a turning point with the adhesion to the capital increase of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, an operation never done before, admits Melzi d’Eril himself. Mps has raised the level of attention – admits the CEO -. We have always placed ourselves proactively. Of course, we cannot cause mergers between banks, however, when something moves in Italian finance, we are there, we are a bit of a “parsley”. And we try to build something to create value: today, due to size and conformation, we believe we can play a pivotal role in asset management in Italy. On the contrary, Melzi d’Eril replies sharply to the voices that have been raised to reproach Anima for being an obstacle in the process of aggregation: As an asset management company we are an important hub and in any transaction between banks we can be an added value: the we have seen in the merger between Banca Popolare di Milano and Banco Popolare.

Stabilize the partner

So ready to play on the front line. She was the soul, with Axa, the icebreaker that paved the way for the recapitalization of the oldest bank in the world. Twenty-five million put on the table to become shareholders with 1% and cement a relationship that has been going on with Monte since March 2009, that is, since the acquisition of Mps Asset Management. The stabilization of our second partner for the distribution of retail products, after Banco Bpm, was an important point for us, Melzi d’Eril acknowledges. On the other hand, the top manager knows about generations and history since he is a descendant of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, exponent of the Cisalpine Republic of Napoleonic memory. A bail-in of Mps would have been a bad message for the whole sector in the country. I exclude for – and I want to clarify it – that with our 1% we will have influence on the governance of the Sienese bank.

Ammo for purchases

Speaking of risk, Anima has approximately 400 million euros in cash: ammunition for future shopping opportunities which, if they do not materialize, could make the shareholders happy. Of course we look around – confirms the CEO -. But we don’t have concrete dossiers on the table at the moment, so we will focus on the return to shareholders, relaunched by the results of the quarterly and by the last tranche of the 30 million buyback. In recent years the coupon has been 50% of the consolidated net profit to which repurchases have been added with the cancellation of a large part of the shares purchased. From January to September, Anima’s revenues amounted to 257 million euros (-24%), profits to 86.6 million (-51%), positive income of 800 million; management fees stable at 220 million, penalized for performance fees. a good quarterly: we held up well on fixed commissions, equal to those of last year, even if I don’t think that at the end of the year we will maintain the level of those of last year, which had seen an excellent performance in the last quarter. The performance fee remain very limited, however the company demonstrates great resilience and cash generation in a context influenced by the markets. In fact, today Italians – who increased their savings by 3% in 2021 – have shown that they have strong nerves unlike in 2008 and 2011: no panic selling, even if equity has been hypervolatile and bonds have seen the worst performance of recent years due to a sudden increase in interest rates which impacted long-term yields.

Italian-French crossings

Opportunities are created in every negative moment, especially on bonds: today there is new value, they can be bought at interesting rates. And we are here to explain it. In fact, Melzi d’Eril’s mandate is clear: To make the company grow more and more “stand alone”: I look at organic expansion strategies and external lines. Anima relaunch on partnerships for the proposal of savings products with smaller banks. Today the active collaborations concern Banco Desio, Banca Valsabbina, Banca Popolare di Puglia e Basilicata, Credito Popolare, Civibank and Sparkasse. We are Italian, we offer made-to-measure Italian products, we have 80 people in marketing and network training: we aim to reach 10 banks with partnerships of this type, two more new ones indicatively as early as the first half of 2023. Above all this remains for the shareholders mentioned earlier: Amundi Asset Management (controlled by Crdit Agricole) in May rounded up its stake to 5.1%, making it the company’s third largest shareholder, behind Banco Bpm (20.622%; the Milanese bank has less than 10% still Agricole), Poste Italiane (10.324%) and Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone (3.192%). There are fears of a French takeover, there were rumors of an Italian armoring of the Post Office. As far as Amundi has been told, it bought with funds, it is its customers’ money, not its own. That you look at Anima with interest I consider it possible if not taken for granted. We have a business, on a small scale, similar to the one that the French have developed over the years, in a supranational manner, on the retail side. And they have a few more masses than we do in Italy, 206 billion. Furthermore, Amundi does not have directors, while the two historical shareholders, Banco Bpm and Poste, if for their part have a harmonious relationship at the level of the board of directors.

«Heart centralizing asset management in Italy»