UPDATE 2-Mediobanca returns to pre-COVID earnings, looks at acquisitions

(Recasts, adds details)

MILAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Italy’s Mediobanca restored pre-coronavirus earnings with its second-quarter results and is still looking at possible acquisitions in wealth management in Italy, Chief Executive Alberto Nagel said on Tuesday.

The bank, which offers wealth management, consumer banking, and corporate and investment banking services, posted a larger-than-expected 7% rise in second-quarter net profit, thanks to fee contributions from its corporate and investment banking and wealth management businesses.

A shake up in Mediobanca’s shareholder base over the past year has seen eyewear magnate Leonardo Del Vecchio emerge as the top investor with a 13.2% stake. After initially criticising Nagel’s strategy, Del Vecchio has praised his latest business plan.

Nagel said he is in “constant contact” with Del Vecchio and that he shared the bank’s priorities with him. “We are both ready to evaluate an important deal if there are any, but today there are no adequate options available,” he added.

Last week Mediobanca agreed to buy London-based distressed credit specialist Bybrook Capital via its local business Cairn Capital.

The bank said in a statement its net profit stood at 210.5 million euros ($255 million) in the second quarter, up from 197 million euros in the same period a year ago and above an analyst consensus forecast provided by the bank of 155 million euros.

Mediobanca’s financial year runs from July to June.

With a CET 1 ratio at 16.2%, among the highest in Italy, the bank confirmed its guidance of a dividend payout of 70% of net income, subject to the removal of a ban put in place by the European Central Bank and in force until Sept. 30.

Mediobanca normally pays a dividend in November.

Revenue rose to 674.8 million euros from 641 million a year earlier, driven by an increase in wealth management fees while fees from corporate and investment banking held up at the high levels of the previous quarter. Analysts had estimated revenue of 630 million euros. ($1 = 0.8266 euros) (Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, editing by Kirsten Donovan and Steve Orlofsky)