Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

UniCredit head: We need a European banking union

Ghizzoni took over as CEO of UniCredit in 2010, just as the full extent of the European debt crisis emerged

Story highlights

  • UniCredit is Italy's largest bank, based in Milan and operating in 22 European countries
  • Ghizzoni says the debt crisis is an opportunity for European fiscal and banking integration
  • Ghizzoni took over as CEO of UniCredit in September 2010, just as the full extent of the European debt crisis emerged

A European banking union is crucial to eliminating the eurozone's debt crisis, according to the boss of Italy's largest bank.

Federico Ghizzoni is chief executive of Milan-based UniCredit and says his bank will emerge stronger from the euro area's crisis. He told CNN: "The crisis is pushing everybody to realize that it is time to make a change."

A proposal by European politicians to set up a "banking union" for over 6,000 eurozone banks is intended to prevent a recurrence of banking crises such as those suffered by Ireland and Spain.

Under this proposal, the European Central Bank would take on the role of regulator and Ghizzoni said: "It is an important step forward, to try to eliminate the imbalances inside Europe."

Some countries, including Germany, are opposed to relinquishing control over smaller public-sector banks and want any union to extend only to Europe's biggest financial institutions.

But Ghizzoni says the debt crisis is an opportunity for Europe to forge closer ties through both fiscal and banking integration. He said: "I am in great favor [of having] the European banking union apply to all banks, not just systemic banks."

    The 56-year-old took over as CEO of UniCredit in September 2010, just months after the full extent of Greece's debt crisis emerged, and two years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    The bank is based in Italy, which is undergoing a harsh program of austerity to try and tackle its debts of almost 2 trillion euros ($2.5 trillion).

    The country's difficulties have been a "really serious problem," Ghizzoni said.

    But being established as a European bank in 22 countries is a big help. "UniCredit is not just an Italian bank, only 38% of our assets are based in Italy.

    "We have 27% of our assets based in Germany, for example."

    Ghizzoni said the crisis has ensured the bank streamlined its processes -- which brought it closer to customers. In turn, that boosted its deposit base.

    "Thanks to a very good relationship established with our customers, our deposits keep growing. I saw the numbers recently and this is a great comfort to us," he said.

    Ghizzoni added: "If I look at the bank from a capital point of view, we are okay. But more importantly for me I can say we are good from a liquidity point of view."

      Marketplace Europe

    • spc marketplace europe latvia valdis dombrovskis_00021207.jpg

      CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
    • spc marketplace europe malta immigration africa_00002118.jpg

      Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
    • spc marketplace europe malta immigration vox pops_00001419.jpg

      CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
    • spc marketplace europe malta george vella_00032005.jpg

      Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
    • spc marketplace europe 2013 what went wrong_00020426.jpg

      Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
    • spc marketplace europe 2013 defining moments bob parker intv_00010826.jpg

      CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
    • spc marketplace europe estonia energy_00000923.jpg

      The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
    • spc marketplace europe nani beccalli falco_00041005.jpg

      Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
    • spc marketplace europe greece petros christodoulou_00002025.jpg

      Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
    • spc marketplace europe euro jim cloos_00012617.jpg

      One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
    • spc marketplace europe maastricht eu_00002401.jpg

      Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
    • spc marketplace europe spain working hours_00010525.jpg

      As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.