REFILE-UPDATE 1-Local investors plan to rescue Banca Marche-businessman
(Adds dropped word "needed" in first paragraph)
CERNOBBIO, Italy, Sept 6 (Reuters) - A group of Italian businessmen is willing to raise the 300 million euros needed to rescue Banca Marche, the regional bank put under special administration last week by the Bank of Italy.
"The idea is to help out and maintain the bank's local ties," Francesco Merloni, honorary chairman of Marche-based heating solutions firm Ariston Thermo Group, said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference, Merloni mentioned Tod's owner Diego Della Valle among investors willing to help the bank fill its capital gap.
Della Valle, whose luxury group is also based in Italy's Marche region, had no comment.
Banca Marche has been hit by a spike in writedowns following a review of its loan portfolio by the Bank of Italy. Smaller lenders' asset quality has deteriorated in Italy's longest post-war recession and they are now under close scrutiny by the central bank.
The regulator last week took over management of the unlisted 132-branch Banca Marche, after it posted a net loss of 232 million euros ($305.9 million) in the first half.
On Thursday, credit rating agency Moody's downgraded the bank saying it would "almost certainly" need external support.
Merloni said any decision on investing in the bank would only be taken once the Bank of Italy's assessment of the lender's balance sheet was final.
"We'll see, but first the Bank of Italy needs to conclude its inspection," he said. "It just kept finding more loan-loss provisions to be made."
Banca Marche has approved a 300 million euro share issue to be carried out by the end of the year. Moody's cited the cash call's "unlikely success" among reasons that led it to cut the bank's long-term senior debt rating to 'Caa1'.
Merloni said the investors would be able to raise the necessary amount. "In a way or another we can get there."
The Italian central bank, which has been carrying out an inspection of bad loans at 20 of the country's banks since last autumn, said at the end of July it had extended its checks to the entire loan portfolio of eight smaller lenders.
This is meant to accelerate a clean-up of Italian banks' balance sheets before the European Central Bank takes over supervision of euro zone lenders in 2014. (Reporting by Valentina Za and Francesca Landini , additional reporting by Sabina Suzzi in Milan. Editing by Jane Merriman)
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