Marina Natale: “Amco, previously Sga, aims for growth through the Utp market”

“The new Amco begins with the management of more than €20 billion of impaired loans and aims to fulfil a significant role in Italy in the management of Utps, a category banks are now beginning to assign. We will do this by giving assistance to the businesses concerned in both financial and industrial issues. We are under public ownership with all the controls that that implies but we operate on the market and consider ourselves as being on a par with other investors”. Marina Natale, after years working in the UniCredit top management team, has been the Managing director of the company Sga for almost two years now – a public company founded in the 1980s to recover non-performing receivables of the old Banco Napoli (by now largely disposed of, with about €1.7 billion remaining). Now Sga has adopted a new mission, changing itself into a market operator aiming to purchase and manage impaired loans. It has also changed its name: Amco, initials which stand for Asset management company in order to emphasise its business and approach in the management of NPE. Natale explains her vision of the future of the new Amco in this interview with IlSole24Ore.

What is the strategy on which this new start for the old Sga, now Amco, is based?

The strategy is based on the expectation that Amco will achieve an important role in the management of the Utps (Editor’s note: Unlikely-to-pay loans, a new wording which includes the old non-performing loans) that banks are preparing to assign. We will be able to bring into play our sector expertise combined with the role of “facilitator” in the provision of new enterprise finance.

Is it conceivable that you might participate in the purchase of one of the many servicers currently on the market (from Cerved to Credito Fondiario) as a means of accelerating Amco’s transformation?

No, the purchase of a structure with expertise on Npls is not one of our priorities. We want to grow on a new market, that of the Utps and that’s our aim in strengthening our team. Many people with new professional skills, more concentrated on risk assessment and enterprise business, have joined the team and we are continuing to seek them out on the market. When I arrived two years ago there were 70. Today there are about 230 of us and we are ready to grow further if the business development requires it.

Is the fact that you are a company entirely under state control an advantage or a disadvantage in your operations? Will you be benevolent (for reasons of state) in dealings with some creditors?

We will behave exactly like market operators. My job is to guarantee adequate returns to our shareholders. We will be competing with battle-hardened foreign investors. And we are battle-hardened too, except that we are supervised agents. It is worth remembering that, in addition to being owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and under the supervision of the Bank of Italy, a member of the Court of Auditors is present at all our Board Meetings.

For some time now the market and the media have been talking about your Cuvée project working together with Prelios, aiming to take a real estate Utp portfolio from 4 or 5 medium-sized banks through a fund or platform. Can you confirm this? What is it about?

I can confirm that we are working on an innovative scheme not much used by funds because concerned with small and medium-sized receivable positions. Amco is aiming to manage these positions to return them to performing status including by the grant of new loans. Since we believe that the new “platform” model can be repeated in other situations, we amended the company’s Articles of Association in August. Now we can provide loans to parties, like platforms, which are not our direct debtors.

What relations do you have with the banks?

They are our counterparties when we buy the various types of Npes. But they are also our partners in the subsequent management of relations with debtor enterprises. We work with everyone.

The General Meeting of the Shareholders will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the rescuing of Carige. Are you still a shareholder? Are you confident that the purchase of more than €3 billion of Npes will go ahead?

We have a small shareholding left amounting to about 1.2% of the share capital and we will take part in the General Meeting. Our offer for the purchase of the Npes is valid and conditional on the success of the share capital increase and vice versa. Let’s wait to see the results of the General Meeting vote.

The banks? They are our counterparties when we buy the various types of Npes. But they are also our partners in the subsequent management of relations with debtor enterprises. We work with everyone

There has been talk for some time of your possible involvement with the re-launch of Mps. Some suggest the creation of a bad bank, others of a maxi assignment of the residual stock before the re-privatisation of the bank. What does this mean?

I don’t discuss individual dossiers. As with any other bank, Mps is one of our possible counterparties.

The Banca Popolare di Bari and other small and medium-sized banks in the south of Italy. For some time now there has been talk of the creation of a “sponsored” hub by the Bank of Italy. Are you ready to intervene in relation to the Npls with a view to seeking a systemic solution?

In the context of the development plans for various platforms, the Banca Popolare di Bari is also a counterparty. But we are not the sole players on the market. We make offers for Npes, at times we beat the competition, at others we lose out.

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