UniCredit Group was the outcome of the 1998 merger of several Italian banks.
In 1999, UniCredito Italiano, as it was then known, began its expansion in Eastern Europe with the acquisition of Polish Bank Pekao.
In 2005, UniCredit merged with the German group HVB, which is itself formed in 1998 by the combination of two Bavarian banks: Bayerische Vereinsbank and Bayerische Hypotheken-und Wechsel-Bank. Integration with the HVB Group was reinforced by the merger with Bank Austria Creditanstalt in the year 2000 and enabled further growth for the UniCredit Group. However, this merger was only marginally profitable. Additionally, Bank Austria Creditanstalt was a major shareholder in Bank Medici AG. Bank Medici was Thema Fund's investment manager. In returning for finding investors, Bank Medici collected fees of 4.6 million euros from Thema International Fund in 2007. Following the news that Bank Medici had invested US$2 billion with Bernard Madoff, officials in Vienna appointed a supervisor to run the private bank, raising questions about control of the sprawling group.
In 2007, in combination with the Capitalia Group, the third-largest Italian banking group; UniCredit Group consolidated and strengthened its position, but added considerably to its overhead costs. In the same year, two more acquisitions were carried out: ATF Bank, which ranks fifth out of domestic banks in Kazakhstan with 154 branches, and Ukrsotsbank, a universal bank. With these two banks the Group extended its operations in this area to 19 countries (including Central Asia). However, in November 2012, Kazakh government sources declared UniCredit is in talks with Kazakh investors over the sale of a controlling stake in ATF Bank.
On March 14, 2014 UniCredit announced that it expects to cut around 8.500 jobs upcoming time, together with the announcement of an 15 billion loss in the 4th quarter of 2013 due to extensive cash-reserving for bad loans and writing down goodwill from acquisitions. UniCredit is one of the 6 European banks which is currently most exposed to potential problems in the emerging markets.
UniCredit Group also controls the Banco di Sicilia Group which is one of the oldest Italian banks.
^Brüggmann, Mathias (19 April 2013). "Wirtschaft fördert den Ost-Ruck". Handelsblatt (in German). p. 8. "Kern der Debatte ist die Schaffung eines 'gemeinsamen europäischen Wirtschaftsraums von Lissabon bis Wladiwostok'"