Includes special features of this country’s banking system and rules/laws that might impact U.S. business.

Italy has a well-developed banking and credit system with numerous correspondent U.S. banks.  Italian banks are subject to close government supervision, and the Bank of Italy (BOI, Italy’s central bank) must authorize the establishment of any new bank. In November 2014, the European Central Bank (ECB) assumed primary supervisory responsibility for “significant banks” and may exercise supervision over less significant national banks.  As of 2018, there are 12 banking groups in Italy deemed “significant” and therefore subject to ECB supervision. 

U.S. firms seeking to finance major portions of their capital investment outside the United States may find capital available in Italy.  As of the March 2017, there were 580 banks in Italy, 63 fewer than in December 2015. Of these, 85 banks are branches of foreign banks.  Currently, the country's largest private banks, by assets are: Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit Group.  These two banks combined accounted for over half of total bank assets in Italy and are a principal source of credit information.  U.S. bank branches in Italy can also assist in financing capital investment.

Italy’s banking sector has undergone significant consolidation since the mid-nineties, decreasing from approximately 1,000 banks through mergers, takeovers or asset transfers, liquidations or, the conversion of a bank into a financial company, which involved 60 percent of total Italian banking assets.  The government is taking steps to encourage the consolidation process to continue over the next several years to boost the international competitiveness of the Italian banking sector.  For instance, a 2015 reform required Italy’s 10 largest cooperative banks (banche popolari) to convert to joint-stock companies within 18 months to make the converted banks more attractive targets for foreign purchasers seeking to enter the Italian market.  After 18 months, all but two cooperative banks (Banca Popolare di Sondrio and Banca Popolare di Milano) have converted.  The cooperative bank reform prompted the merger of Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano, creating Italy’s third-largest bank by assets. Additionally, in April 2016, the government required the 355 small credit cooperatives (BCCs) to merge into a centralized network with at least €1 billion in capital within 18 months.  The reform generated three banking groups (ICRREA, Cassa Centrale Banca and Cassa Centrale Raiffeisen) which currently fall under the supervision of the BOI, and are authorized to become the leaders of three consortia of small cooperative and mutual banks.  Once the process is fully implemented it will significantly reduce the number of Italian banks.  ICRREA and Cassa Centrale Banca will be supervised by the ECB, and Cassa Centrale Raiffeisen will continue to be supervised by the BOI. 

Banks in Italy that have the authority to participate in foreign exchange usually have a U.S. correspondent. Foreign currency transfers and foreign exchange transactions must be channeled via authorized intermediaries (the Bank of Italy). Larger Italian banks usually have branches in one or more U.S. cities.

The Bank of Italy follows euro notes issues, performs credit, financial and market supervision, and regulates bank mergers. The Bank of Italy Governor's term is for six years in line with European Central Bank (ECB) standards, and the Governor is limited to two terms in office.  Banking competition oversight responsibilities are divided between the Bank of Italy and Italy's anti-trust authority. CONSOB, Italy’s security markets and company accounting regulator, holds authority to raid firms suspected of securities violations and to impound evidence.  

A prohibition on non-bank companies (either Italian or foreign) acquiring more than 15 percent of a bank's capital was abolished by the legislature in late 2008, with the aim of implementing a new European directive. Firms have used complex cross-shareholding arrangements to fight off takeover attempts in the financial sector. Still, the presence of foreign intermediaries in the Italian market increased in the last several years.

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