DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The head of Italy's top lender UniCredit
In an interview with Reuters TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, UniCredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni said he welcomed the asset quality review by the European Central Bank as it will allow lenders to understand the balance sheet of banks in other euro zone countries.
He also said he expected the exercise to trigger a new consolidation wave among smaller players in Italy.
"For sure some banks will need some additional capital," Ghizzoni said when asked about the health of local mid-sized banks.
"It's possible to start to see consolidation at that level. This is also welcome. In Italy we have too many banks and it's time to see some banks getting together," he said.
The bank executive echoed words expressed this week by Intesa Sanpaolo
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
Ghizzoni said that he did not expect larger Italian banks to be involved in any merger at this stage but said the transparency exercise on the banks' balance sheet may encourage some cross-border deals at a later stage.
"In this phase I do not see big banks going together. It will be interesting to see what will happen after the AQR, not only in Italy alone but also in the European (banking) scenario," he said.
Ghizzoni declined to say whether the bank would distribute a dividend on 2013 results.
(Reporting by Lisa Jucca, editing by Stephen Jewkes)