Zonin sul WSJ, Cappelleri non opinioneggi

Nell’articolo sull’ex presidente BpVi del quotidiano della City newyorkese spicca una frase del Procuratore di Vicenza. Decisamente fuori posto

Ieri il Wall Street Journal, quotidiano della City di New York santuario mondiale della speculazione (parentesi: non si capisce come possa essere legale un brutale e scoperto gioco al massacro com’è la Borsa finanziaria, ma ormai ci siamo abituati a tutto), pubblicava un ritrattino dello sfascio della Banca Popolare di Vicenza concentrando il mirino sul suo ex dominus absolutus, Gianni Zonin. L’articolo di analisi non dice niente di niente in più di quel che già avevamo capito. La butta più sul colore, mettendo alla gogna la persona Zonin: ecco Zonin evitato dai conoscenti per strada, ecco Zonin che suscita mugugni perfino in Chiesa, ecco Zonin bandito dai ristoranti. Zonin da eroe (del mitologizzato e strumentalizzato “territorio”, of course) a paria (e infatti “How an Italian Banker Went from Hero to Pariah” é il titolo originale del pezzo, che potete leggere integralmente sotto).

Posto che è comprensibile e sacrosanta la rabbia dei soci che si sentono truffati da lui, e da chi con lui ha amministrato l’istituto (molti sono ancora nell’attuale cda), é sempre desolante e disonorevole accanirsi su un uomo che se non é proprio “morto”, é sicuramente in declino. Tanto più che, come abbiamo già avuto modo di scrivere, negli anni d’oro il paria di oggi veniva trattato coi guanti bianchi, con la deferenza che questa provincia di timorati basabanchi tributa solitamente a chi è assiso in trono, ammirato, temuto, lodato anche da chi ora gli sputa addosso. Criticato sì, andava e va criticato, e anche con toni aspri e irreverenti, per condurre a misura umana il senso di sé che aveva smisuratamente ipertrofico. Ma troppo facile farlo ora, e in più scendendo in basso, sul personale.

Un’informazione interessante, tuttavia, il WSJ la dà. Una soltanto, ma la dà. Ad un certo punto viene data voce al procuratore capo di Vicenza, Antonino Cappelleri, che fa un’osservazione apparentemente banale, ma che banale non é: «Questa è la banca che lavora di più con le aziende e le famiglie locali. Se le quote perderanno i due terzi del loro valore andremmo incontro a un disastro per l’economia locale». Vero: la BpVi é addentro al tessuto economico vicentino e veneto in un rapporto di simbiosi. Ma suona un po’ strano, fuori posto diciamo, che il procuratore, lo schivo e prudente Cappelleri a cui fa capo l’inchiesta in corso su Zonin e altri ex amministratori e dirigenti, esprima un’opinione sull’evoluzione (o involuzione, a seconda dei punti di vista) della banca stessa. Lasciando trasparire una preoccupazione che, se é perfettamente legittima per un qualsiasi cittadino, diventa inopportuna per un magistrato che sta indagando su ciò su cui opìna. Meglio, molto meglio astenersi dall’opinare. A meno che Cappelleri non abbia elementi per ricondurre l’eventuale crollo del valore azionario a fatti criminosi, non dovrebbe essere affare del procuratore come andrà la quotazione in Borsa, prevista dopo l’assemblea dei soci del 5 marzo prossimo. A lui deve interessare soltanto la verità giudiziaria, e a noi di ascoltare da lui quel che pensa su ciò che gli pertiene. Fine.

 

“How an Italian Banker Went from Hero to Pariah”
One midsize lender’s travails highlight Italy’s struggle to resuscitate its troubled banks

By Giovanni Legorano and Max ColchesterWall Street Journal Jan. 26, 2016

VICENZA, Italy – To mark the 150th anniversary of Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA’s founding, its executive chairman rented out a local convention center to host a high-profile conference that would be attended by Italy’s top finance executives. The confab, however, never happened.

With the bank dogged by bad loans, thin capital and questions about the legality of some business practices, the bank’s chairman, Gianni Zonin, resigned in November. Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation. Hundreds of workers are losing their jobs. The bank, which had planned to open its 1,000th branch this year, instead will close 150 and is likely to be swallowed up by a stronger competitor.

Mr. Zonin, a 78-year-old wine producer, has gone from respected leader to pariah, banned from a half-dozen restaurants and heckled at his church, residents say.
“If I see Mr. Zonin on the street, I take a side street,” said Luigi Ugone, a bank shareholder who was recently part of a protest against the bank in the center of Vicenza. “I don’t even want to see him.”

Through a lawyer, Mr. Zonin declined to comment. A Popolare di Vicenza spokeswoman declined to comment.
The woes of a midsize bank in an ancient town in Italy’s northeastern corner might not be noteworthy, except that they are emblematic of the banking crisis that continues to afflict the eurozone’s third-largest economy and, to a lesser extent, the entire continent.

Six years after the sovereign debt crisis first gripped the eurozone, Italy’s banking system is choking. An index of Italian bank shares slumped nearly 25% at the start of this year, although it partly rebounded last week. During the same period, European bank stocks were down 17%.
Italian banks are among the continent’s least profitable, and their books are clogged with €276 billion ($298.56 billion) of bad loans, more than any other European country, according to the European Banking Authority. Many banks don’t make enough money to write off the poor loans, so they fester—prolonging the mess and making it harder for banks to make loans.

The Italian government has been trying, without much success, to defuse the problem. It is pushing so-called cooperative banks to convert from their historic legal structure as customer-owned mutual into private companies that are easier to combine. (Mergers would help the consolidated banks slash costs and improve profitability.)
On Tuesday, Italy and the European Union struck an agreement over a mechanism to move bad loans off banks’ books. The program will help Italian banks in the process of bundling and selling nonperforming loans to separate, individually managed entities, according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

Italy’s struggles underscore the glacial pace of banking reform across Europe. Despite years of restructuring, bankers and investors still point to pockets of undercapitalized European banks, which could need to raise up to $35 billion of equity this year, according to Citigroup C 2.40 % analysts. Deutsche Bank AG DB 4.42 % and Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank RAIFY 11.62 % are among those who bankers and analysts suspect might have to raise capital. A Raiffeisen spokesman said the bank has no plans to do so. A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment.
But the problems are most pronounced in Italy, which suffers from a highly-fragmented and overextended banking system.

Like other Italian banks, Banca Popolare di Vicenza came through the financial crisis largely unscathed, touting its close ties to local businesses in the rich Veneto region. Under Mr. Zonin, it continued to snap up local competitors. The bank was a key part of the local fabric, sponsoring the city’s soccer team and helping pay for a theater. A Vicenza taxi driver said he and his colleagues used to pick up flowers and other gifts from shops in the town center and bring them to Mr. Zonin’s house.

But as Italy’s economy slowed, the bank struggled to raise funds to pass a 2014 financial-health exam. As a mutual, it didn’t have publicly traded shares that it could sell to drum up cash. Instead, Popolare di Vicenza sold its unlisted shares to retail customers, sometimes as a condition for getting a loan, according to customers and their lawyers. The bank declined to comment.

At first, Popolare di Vicenza appeared to have scraped by the test. But the European Central Bank probed its numbers. The bank said it disclosed that it had issued €975 million of loans linked to the purchase of its shares. The regulator ordered it to deduct the amount raised from its capital base, arguing that those shares represented lower-quality capital. As a result, its capital buffers fell below the required minimum levels, it said.
Shareholders sued, claiming they were duped into buying the shares. Mr. Zonin started using a side entrance to access bank’s headquarters to avoid angry locals. Police raided its offices, according to Popolare di Vicenza.

“This is the bank which worked most with local companies and households,” said Antonino Cappelleri, head of Vicenza prosecutors’ office. “If shares are bound to lose two-thirds of their value, it will be a disaster for the local economy.”
Mr. Zonin stepped down as chairman in November. He and three other former executives are under investigation over alleged stock manipulation, obstructing regulators and extortion, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Mr. Zonin and the three former executives declined to comment.

The bank’s new management is rushing to convert Popolare di Vicenza into a limited company and then to sell €1.5 billion of equity and eventually find another bank to merge with. Executives are touring northern Italy to convince shareholders to support the change, but they are encountering resistance from locals who fear the impact on the Vicenza economy.

“If it happens, we will lose all our money,” says Daniele Marangoni, an unemployed 47-year-old who says he acquired shares as a condition of getting a loan.
Locals are no longer delivering flowers to Mr. Zonin’s house. At a recent Sunday mass, residents in the area said fellow churchgoers loudly heckled the deposed executive.