UniCredit kicks off second buyback for up to 1 bln euros

Italy’s UniCredit (CRDI.MI) said on Wednesday it was kicking off its second share buyback this year, for up to 1 billion euros ($990 million), which it expects to conclude by the end of November.

Italy’s second-biggest bank has hired BNP Paribas to carry out the purchases of up to 200 million shares, or 9.89% of the bank’s capital at present, which will be cancelled.

By 1535 GMT shares in UniCredit rose 1.7% outperforming a 0.4% rise in Italy’s banking index (.FTITLMS3010).

The latest buyback comes after UniCredit in July completed a first tranche worth 1.58 billion euros, repurchasing 7.42% of its share capital.

The second tranche brings the overall capital distribution on 2021 earnings to 3.75 billion euros, as CEO Andrea Orcel works towards a goal of returning more than 16 billion euros to shareholders by 2024.

Orcel, who earlier this month forecast a “shallow recession” ahead for the European economy, has said UniCredit expects to meet most of its distribution goals even in a recession.

The bank would like to replicate the 3.75 billion euro payout — made up of buybacks and dividends — also on its results for the current year.

Speaking at an event in Rome on Wednesday Orcel said UniCredit expected to hit this year’s financial targets, which would put it in a position to return capital to shareholders.

“But there is a caveat: I can’t distribute capital if we fall into an abyss,” he told reporters when asked about this year’s distribution. ($1 = 1.0101 euros)