UniCredit Group is one of the leading European banking groups, with a core business of retail banking and other related services, but also offering asset management, insurance, and leasing services. During fiscal year 2007, the Group recorded an operating income of €29,655 million, an operating profit of €13,346 million, and employed 170,000 people. Today, UniCredit, whose origins date back to the establishment of Rolo Banca in 1473, operates through 9,714 branches in 23 European countries and has offices in 27 other markets.
The actual structure is the result of the merger of nine of Italy’s largest banks and the recent acquisition of the German HVB Group and the Italian Capitalia Group. In central and eastern Europe, the network has been strengthened through the strategic acquisition of Ukrsots bank in the Ukraine and ATF Bank in Kazakhstan. Their headquarters are in Milan, Italy, which represents the main market, accounting for roughly 51 percent of total revenues. In Italy, top competitors are Intesa Sanpaolo and Antonveneta. Outside national boundaries, its main European competitors are Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale.
The Group has a leading position in Italy and Germany, where it is the second-largest player with a market share based on assets of 16 percent and 5 percent, respectively. In Austria, UniCredit is the first player with a market share of 19 percent. It is the undisputed leader in central and eastern Europe, where it offers a comprehensive product and service range to about 24 million retail, corporate, and institutional customers, provided with a strong network, which is twice the size of the second player. It has recently also started its expansion in central Asia. Its robust growth in international markets is carried out both organically and through strategic external activities.
The UniCredit Group is characterized by a division-based organizational model that represents a source of value creation and capitalization of growing opportunities. Some business lines—such as retail, corporate, and private banking—are common to all markets of operation. Retail banking is the most important source of revenue, generating about 38 percent of the total, followed by corporate banking, which accounts for 21 percent of total revenues. This strategic choice is based on the development of centralized divisions, allows pooling and leveraging their know-how to all group clients, regardless of their location, and transfers best practices to provide innovative products. The group’s performance in core banking is one of the highest in Europe, allowing it to develop cross-selling activities for other financial products.
Other divisions, such as asset management, markets and investment banking, and global banking services, represent centers of excellence with the aim to increase product competitiveness and quality at a global level. Finally, to manage successfully the high economic growth characterized by a dynamic domestic demand and a high number of foreign direct investments, UniCredit has established a central eastern Europe division and a Poland market division. Support services, such as information and communication technology and back office activities are centralized, too, to fulfill the daily requests of all the divisions.
The centralization and coordination allowed by the divisional organizational structure does not contrast with the adoption of a multifocal approach. On the one hand, coordination ensures strategic support and generates added value for the growth of the Group’s businesses: cost structures and internal processes are optimized, ensuring maximum synergies, savings, and operational excellence. On the other hand, the country-by-country approach is considered necessary to empower the local banks to oversee distribution networks and customer relationships.
This global approach is reflected in the UniCredit global brand strategy. In recent years, financial investments to build a strong brand both at the international level and at a local level have been high. It has been decided to align local brands closely with the UniCredit Group master brand, making it possible to significantly improve the efficacy and efficiency of marketing and communication investments. Positioning conveyed to the final consumer is focused on empowering optimism: the idea behind this concept is that people deserve encouragement in their private and professional lives. The objective is to create a single-minded, strong brand and presence through- out Europe, while maintaining the local brand value where awareness is high.
- Datamonitor, UniCredito Italiano Group, www.datamonitor.com (cited March 2009);
- Shelagh Heffernan, Modern Banking (Wiley, 2005);
- Hoovers, UniCredit S.p.A., www.hoovers.com (cited March 2009);
- UnicreditGroup, www.unicreditgroup.com (cited March 2009);
- Ingo Walter, Mergers and Acquisitions in Banking and Finance: What Works, What Fails, and Why (Oxford University Press, USA, 2004).
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