Italy's banking industry is expected to return to profit this year though the return on equity will remain low, according to a report by think tank Prometeia presented at the Milan foreign press association on Tuesday.
From 2013 to 2015, the Italian banking sector will total aggregate profits of around 21 billion euros (27.5 billion U.S. dollars), a third of the 61 billion euros realized in the period 2005-2007 and following the loss of 25 billion euros in 2011-2012, the report said.
The return to equity was estimated to rise from 0.9 percent in 2013 to 3.7 percent in 2015.
Prometeia expected that lending to households and businesses would shrink by 1.9 percent in 2013 and would return to growth only in the following two years.
The deterioration of credit quality will continue to characterize all sectors, resulting in a flow of loan provisions which will remain elevated, around 50 billion euros in three years, it added.
The think tank forecast that despite the narrow path along which it will have to move, the Italian banking system as a whole will remain solid.
Even in a more difficult scenario than expected, the income statement of the aggregate banking system seems to be able to absorb the negative effects of higher provisions and lower profitability, the report said. (1 euro = 1.31 U.S. dollars)