Intesa Sanpaolo 10 years on:
milestones in our history

How the bank has grown to its position of strength after the merger

Giulia Rhodes


Intesa Sanpaolo is the first financial institution to become a global partner of the visionary Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The bank’s story begins more than 450 years ago, in 1563, with the formation of Compagnia di San Paolo in Turin. War between neighbouring France and Spain has left the city in economic and political disarray. The organisation provides financial support and hospital care to needy citizens, gradually evolving, by the 1850s, into a lending bank.

The 1998 merger between retail bank Istituto Bancario San Paolo of Turin and Istituto Mobiliare Italiano IMI, a state-owned investment bank, sees the creation of Sanpaolo IMI. In the same year, Banca Intesa is born in Milan, the result of the integration of Cariplo and Banco Ambroveneto.


In August it is announced that Sanpaolo IMI and Banca Intesa are to merge, creating Intesa Sanpaolo. At the time of its official launch, in January 2007, the new bank becomes Italy’s largest, with 13m customers and assets worth almost $700m.


Intesa Sanpaolo is listed on the FTSE4Good Index of world sustainability. Determined to be a force for good for customers, the community and the planet, as well as to generate profit, the bank’s contribution to the community goes on to be measured by the London Benchmarking Group in 2015 at more than €56.6m.

Construction begins on the bank’s iconic new headquarters. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the 166m, 38-storey tower – completed in 2015 – soars above the city of Turin. As well as housing more than 2,000 bank employees, the environmental award-winning skyscraper offers numerous public spaces, as well as cultural and community events.

The StartUp Initiative launches as part of the bank’s dedicated Innovation Centre, allowing budding entrepreneurs to benefit from Intesa Sanpaolo’s experience, networks and investment. It is a comprehensive programme aimed at helping to turn the most exciting ideas into business reality. By 2016 over 800 innovators have been matched with more than 7,000 investors.


The bank’s confident international growth strategy sees its successful London retail branch become a new centre for global services. With Intesa Sanpaolo’s other international corporate and investment banking hubs in New York and Hong Kong, the group’s network now covers the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.


Keeping track with exciting development opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa, a new international hub opens in Dubai. Offering specialist on-site support and extensive local experience to Italian investors in the region, the branch further expands the bank’s international horizons.

Housed in three historic palazzi in the centres of Milan, Vicenza and Naples, the bank’s extensive art collection forms the acclaimed Gallerie d’Italia. In 2012, Milan’s Piazza Scala Gallery unveils its new 20th-century wing. With education and conservation programmes, exhibitions and permanent collections, the bank seeks to share Italy’s artistic treasures with an international audience.

Carlo Messina is appointed managing director and chief executive of Intesa Sanpaolo. A graduate of Rome’s Luiss University, he began his banking career in 1987. Having held academic positions at the Luiss School of Management and the Faculty of Economics and Business of Ancona, he is a member of Bocconi University’s board and the Italian Bankers’ Association Committee.


At the December opening of its 2014/15 programme, Milan’s world-leading opera house La Scala and the bank celebrate more than a decade of partnership dating back to before the merger. Particularly important is the bank’s funding of the La Scala Under30 initiative, sharing Italy’s rich musical heritage with the next generation through affordable, accessible performances.


With more than 20m visitors and 145 exhibiting countries, Expo 2015 – on the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life – is a spectacular success. As an official global partner, Intesa Sanpaolo shares over 250 cultural, social, business and networking events, celebrating the Made in Italy Brand with clients and visitors to The Waterstone, the bank’s sustainably-built pavilion.

With over €11bn invested in renewable energy between 2007 and 2014, in 2015 Intesa Sanpaolo is the first financial institution to become a global partner of the visionary Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Committed to a circular global economy, the Foundation works with international partners, universities and governments to generate, support and grow sustainable economic innovation.

Intesa Sanpaolo is confirmed in January as Italy’s best-capitalised bank. Among the best for market capitalisation across Europe, it has a global presence – with over 1,600 retail branches in 12 countries, and corporate and investment presence in 29. The group’s strength across the retail, private, corporate, investment and asset-management divisions continues to grow.

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