1986: Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) representative office opened in Lisbon.
1990: 1.5% stake in Banco Comercial Português (BCP) acquired by Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde (CARIPLO).
1998: Domicile of IMI Bank (International) SA, later Sanpaolo IMI Bank (International) SA, moved to Madeira.
The director of Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI)'s London branch, Carlo Lovioz, had written to the bank's top management as early as 1940 about the possibility of opening a branch in Lisbon, where he had fled after war broke out. Despite his explanation of the prospects and advantages of having a direct presence in Portugal, BCI would not be able to establish one until the Salazar dictatorship came to an end in 1975. When it opened its representative office in Lisbon in 1986, BCI became the first Italian bank to do so in that country.
Other banks turned their attention to Portugal in the early 1990s following the end of its liquidity crisis, which came about thanks to support received from the International Monetary Fund, the country's 1986 entry into the European Economic Community, and improvement in its key socioeconomic indicators. In 1990 Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde (CARIPLO) signed a cooperation agreement with Banco Comercial Português (BCP), acquiring a 1.5% stake in the latter that would later be increased to 4.5%; BCP acquired a stake in the CARIPLO-controlled Mediocredito Lombardo in turn.
Istituto Bancario San Paolo (IBSP)'s 1991-1992 foreign expansion plans also foresaw the setting-up of a Lisbon branch, but the plan never materialized even though Banca d'Italia had given IBSP its authorization to do so. The bank's operations in the Iberian peninsula continued to be handled by its Madrid branch, various retail networks, and an informal counter on the premises of the Lisbon-based Banco Espirito Santo e Comercial de Lisboa.
In 1997 IMI Bank (International) SA, an IMI subsidiary that was renamed Sanpaolo IMI Bank (International) SA after the merger between IMI and IBSP, was re-domiciled from the Cayman Islands to Madeira Island. Created in order to raise foreign currency funds on international markets, the subsidiary - at the time already in the process of being liquidated - was eliminated by the Intesa Sanpaolo Group in 2010.