Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Sanpaolo Imi and Banca Intesa

Europe's biggest banking merger this year was that of Italy's second and third largest banks, SanPaolo IMI and Banca Intesa. The $38 billion deal — announced in August and approved by the boards in October — vaults the combined entity into first place. Italy's politicians paved the way by simplifying merger notification rules, hoping consolidation would keep its national banks from hungry foreign owners. The joined company is now Italy's biggest bank, with 6,000 branches and $650 billion in assets.