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(From Retail Banker International)
Italy's banking industry, once viewed as one of the most protected in Europe under the eye of former Bank of Italy governor Antonio Fazio, may now experience a consolidation free-for-all in the wake of BNP Paribas's billion ($10.7 billion) offer for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. John Evans reports BNP Paribas's agreed bid for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) will mark the third-largest cross-border European banking merger yet, behind UniCredito Italiano's takeover of Germany's HypoVereinsbank (HVB) in 2005 and the acquisition of the UK's Abbey by Spain's Santander Central Hispano (SCH) in 2004.
Baudouin Prot, CEO at BNP Paribas, said he had been forced into launching the surprise bid because of growing consolidation in Europe's banking sector. He asserted: "Unless you have a …