UPDATE 1-Monte Paschi consumer credit unit sells loan portfolio
(Recasts lead; adds detail, background)
MILAN Jan 13 (Reuters) - Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena said on Monday its consumer credit unit, Consum.it, had sold a loan portfolio worth 551 million euros ($752 million) as part of a broader restructuring plans.
In a statement, Italy's No. 3 bank said the portfolio had been sold at the end of 2013 to the UK fund Anacap Financial Partners LLP.
The bank said the sale would help its liquidity position and capital absorption ratios but did not quantify how much.
As Italy emerges from its longest post-war economic recession, many banks are cleaning up balance sheets and strengthening capital bases ahead of a health check by the European Central Bank over the next year.
Earlier this month, Italy's biggest bank, UniCredit , said it had reached a deal with Cerberus European Investments LLC to sell a portfolio of non-performing loans with a gross value of around 950 million euros.
Monte Paschi, reeling from derivatives losses and weakened by years of economic crisis, said the loan portfolio comprised personalised loans which lenders pay back with part of their salary.
The Siena-based bank was recently forced by shareholder opposition to delay a 3 billion euro share sale it needs to raise capital to pay back billions of euros in state aid.
It faces the prospect of nationalisation if the capital hike is not completed before the end of the year.
($1 = 0.7324 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Leslie Adler)