MILAN, March 1 Italy's Banca Popolare di Sondrio plans to launch a capital increase worth up to 350 million euros ($483 million), the small lender said on Saturday.
On Friday the board of the cooperative bank approved the plan to strengthen its capital base by the end of this year to meet new rules set by the Basel Committee of international regulators, the bank said in a statement.
The bank, which is one of 15 Italian lenders under scrutiny by the European Central Bank in a Europe-wide review of the sector, said it expected its 2013 profit to show an increase compared with the year before.
The rights issue, which also envisages the allocation of free shares for up to 100 million euros, will have to be approved by an extraordinary shareholders meeting to be convened in April.
Banca Popolare di Sondrio is one of six Italian banks planning to raise fresh capital in the face of mounting bad debts for an overall amount of around 7 billion euros.
($1 = 0.7240 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Toby Chopra)