UniCredit plans Czech Republic expansion

ITALIAN bank Unicredit is expanding in the Czech Republic with more branches and franchises, it emerged yesterday.

Unicredit is understood to be planning to enlarge its 60-strong branch network by at least 40 branches and to expand its franchise network to 90 outlets, especially in smaller towns and cities.

The group is Italy’s biggest bank, but lags behind rivals such as Societe Generale’s Komercni Banka in the former Eastern Bloc nation.

Unicredit said it was keen on expansion in the region because it expects retail operations there to grow.UniCredit operates in 22 countries, with about 162,000 employees and 9,578 branches.

Brokers believe the Czech Republic is a sound investment bet, with good standards of living and a relatively under-developed banking structure.

They reckon UniCredit is likely to leave smaller eastern European nations such as the Baltic republics, helping it to focus its resources on more lucrative markets. It is in 19 countries in central and Eastern Europe and says its presence results from “strong commitment” in the region.