UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets, plans to slash thousands of jobs and restructure or exit its retail business in Austria and leasing operations in Italy.

It is trying to boost its finances without asking shareholders for cash. 

UniCredit, the latest major European bank to announce an overhaul to boost profits and increase capital, said it expected a so-called CET 1 capital ratio of 12.6% in 2018 compared with 10% in a previous plan. 

Net profit for 2018 is expected at €5.3 billion, down from €6.6 billion envisaged in the previous plan. 

"The targets look ambitious to us with the capital ratios, net profit and job cuts numbers above expectations," a Milan-based trader said. 

UniCredit said it was targeting cost cutting measures worth €1.6 billion by 2018. 

In a statement, UniCredit said it planned to reduce its workforce by 18,200 people, including 6,000 through the sale of its Ukraine business and a joint venture of its Pioneer asset management operations with Santander. 

Job cuts will take place both in local and global corporate centres as well as in commercial banks in Italy, Germany, Austria and Central and Eastern Europe, the lender said.