Banco Popolare aims to complete $2 billion cash call in April

MILAN Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:16pm EST

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MILAN Jan 31 (Reuters) - Italian lender Banco Popolare aims to launch and complete its 1.5 billion euro ($2 billion) rights issue in April, its chairman and chief executive said in a letter to shareholders.

Italy's fourth-largest bank announced plans for the cash call this month when it warned that loan-loss charges of 1.7 billion euros have taken its full-year loss to a bigger than expected 600 million euros.

Banco Popolare has said that UBS and Mediobanca would guarantee the cash call, with shareholder approval expected by March.

The move by Banco Popolare could hit the fundraising plans of rival lenders as competition to attract investors increases amid concerns that higher than expected loan losses could require further recapitalisation.

The letter from Chairman Carlo Fratta Pasini and CEO Pier Francesco Saviotti, which was seen by Reuters on Friday, said the shareholder meeting to approve the cash call will be held on March 1 and the gathering to approve annual results and renew the board would meet on March 29.

"This will allow a timely launch so that the capital increase can be be completed in the following month of April," they said in the letter.

Separately on Friday, Moody's changed its outlook on Banco Popolare's 'Ba3' credit rating to positive from negative to reflect the bank's measures to strengthen its capital adequacy. ($1 = 0.7415 euros) (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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