1973: Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) representative office opened in Moscow.
1979: Banco di Napoli (BN) representative office opened in Moscow.
1989: Istituto Bancario San Paolo (IBSP) representative office opened in Moscow.
1989: International Moscow Bank (IMB), in which BCI held a stake, founded.
1990: Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde (CARIPLO) representative office opened in Moscow.
1996: Banco Ambrosiano Veneto (BAV) representative office opened in Moscow.
2003: ZAO Banca Intesa, a subsidiary of Banca Intesa, founded.
2005: Stake in KMB Bank acquired by Banca Intesa.
Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) began developing financial and commercial relations with the Soviet Union prior to World War I, initially through trade and timber deals and later through loans to the Soviet government for the purchase of military supplies: in 1922 BCI's Genoa branch provided banking services to the Soviet delegation to the Genoa Conference, which was led by Georgij Cicerin.
Following Italy's official recognition of the Soviet Union in 1924, BCI partnered on various initiatives with the Communist government, the most notable of which was the 1960s-era construction of the Fiat automobile manufacturing plant in the city of Tolyatti (in the central Volga region), for which Istituto Mobiliare Italiano (IMI) provided eighty percent of the medium-term funding.
In the 1970s all eyes were on the Soviet Union as it increasingly opened up to the West, and numerous foreign banks attempted to get a foothold there. However, only those that had close ties with Gosbank (the U.S.S.R.'s central bank) and Vneshtorgbank (its Bank for Foreign Trade) and that "actually contributed" in terms of financing Soviet import-export operations were granted licenses to establish offices there.
It appears that BCI was the first Italian bank to obtain such authorization primarily due to an agreement reached between BCI and Istituto Mobiliare Italiano (IMI), which consented to use the future BCI representative office in Moscow to speed up the granting of import- and export-related loans and to maintain contacts with the Vneshtorgbank vis-à-vis the use of various lines of credit that had been established. As early as the 1930s, in fact, IMI had concluded a range of agreements related to the granting of credits to finance trade deals between Italy and the U.S.S.R.. Thus BCI opened its representative office in Moscow in October 1973, the only Italian bank - and one of just five foreign banks - to have done so. Its activities helped further advance business relations between Italy and the U.S.S.R..
At the initiative of BCI's managing director, Raffaele Mattioli, in the late 1960s the bank helped finance the first gas pipeline between the Soviet Union and Italy, which was inaugurated in 1974; it was also a member of the Italian delegation that signed an agreement with the Soviets in London in 1987 to double gas supplies between the two countries.
In 1979 Banco di Napoli opened its own representative office in Moscow, followed by Istituto Bancario San Paolo e CARIPLO in 1989 and 1990, respectively.
In that same period International Moscow Bank (IMB), a consortium bank whose shareholders included both Soviet and Western banks, was founded. BCI was among the latter, having been invited by the U.S.S.R.'s central bank to advance the initiative based on its experience in Hungary with Central-European International Bank Ltd (CIB Bank). At the time BCI was among the top five foreign banks in terms of its loan portfolio of projects in the Soviet Union, which had by then reached approximately 300 million dollars.
Given the increasing Italian presence in the country, in the 1990s Banco Ambrosiano Veneto inaugurated its own representative office in Moscow, while Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze opened a consulting office there.
Subsequently, Banca Intesa would decide to further strengthen its presence in Russia, where it already had a representative office, founding ZAO Banca Intesa, the first Russian-registered, fully Italian-owned bank, in 2003, and acquiring a 75% stake in KMB Bank in 2005.