MILAN (AFX) - Banca Intesa SpA CEO Corrado Passera said that Sanpaolo IMI SpA's insurance and asset management unit Eurizon is a strategic asset for the merged Intesa/Sanpaolo group.

Passera said that the merged Intesa/Sanpaolo group could provide new opportunities for the development of Eurizon's asset management, bancassurance and distribution activities, the daily MF reported.

The comments are seen as a response to a declaration by Assicurazioni Generali SpA's CEO Giovanni Perissinotto stating that the group wants to become Intesa/Sanpaolo's bancassurance partner and reinforce links with Banca Intesa.

Passera was also cited as saying that the groups' merger programme and forthcoming business plan will seek to enhance the value of projects underway and give guidelines for each business.

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