Italy’s Banco BPM is on the lookout for opportunities for the divesture or partnership for its payments arm, Bloomberg reported.

Speaking in an interview, the bank’s CFO Edoardo Ginevra said: “We are examining all the options for our merchant-acquiring business, including a disposal or a joint venture agreement. 

“In the past Banco BPM’s moves to value its assets were done to finance derisking, now our purpose is to ensure significant remuneration for shareholders.”

Banco BPM is working to bolster its operations in areas such as consumer credit, private banking, asset management, and insurance with a focus on adopting digital technology.

“I expect 2022 profit somewhere in between last year’s net income and the 2023 target,” Ginevra noted, adding that “for dividends, we have a commitment of a payout ratio of 40%, but we are confident we can go higher, having already distributed 50% for 2021.”

Banco BPM was formed in 2017 by merging Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano and has ever since worked to reduce cost and risk while reshuffling business. 

About the bank’s direct exposure to Russia, the CFO expects a non-material impact, which amounts to nearly €120m or 0.06% of the bank’s total assets.

Ginevra stated that Banco BPM is monitoring the developments and it has a strong capital base and stable revenue.

“If the impact of the war is limited we see a cost of risk of 55 basis points as a good starting point for this year,” the executive was quoted by the publications as saying.