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(From Bank Marketing International)
Foreign bids for two of Italy's banks have awoken interest in one of Europe's largest but most protected and uncompetitive retail banking markets.
Italian banks, now looking to survive a raft of possible foreign takeovers, need to focus on products, marketing and costs - at the moment, over one-half of Italian consumers, fed up with poor service and high charges, would welcome foreign players with open arms.
Offers by Dutch bank ABN Amro for Banca Antonveneta and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria's (BBVA's) for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) are likely to radically shake up one of Europe's most sheltered and least competitive retail banking markets.
Despite significant political alarm over non-Italian banks entering the country's financial market, the bid by ABN Amro for Banca Antonveneta, a former mutual bank which has a strong presence in the north-east of the country, and Spanish bank …