UPDATE 1-Monte Paschi posts 2013 net loss of 1.44 bln euros

Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:57am EDT

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(Adds core capital ratio, deal with banks on capital increase)

MILAN, March 12 (Reuters) - Troubled Italian lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena posted a higher than expected 2013 loss of 1.44 billion euros ($2 billion) as it was forced to set aside more money against bad loans ahead of a health check of European banks.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 882 million euros, according to a consensus distributed by the bank.

The 2013 result compared with a loss of 3.17 billion euros in 2012 and was the third consecutive loss for the Siena-based lender bailed out by the Italian government last year with 4.1 billion euros in state aid.

Writedowns on bad debts totalled 2.75 billion euros in 2013, 1.2 billion euros of which came in the fourth quarter as the bank sought to clean up its balance sheet in the run-up to the European Central Bank's asset quality review.

Souring loans stemming from Italy's longest recession since World War Two have become the biggest problem for lenders in the the euro zone's third-largest economy, eating into profits and absorbing precious capital.

UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets, this week posted a record loss of 14 billion euros, hit by loan loss provisions and writedowns on past acquisitions.

Monte dei Paschi said its Core Tier 1 capital ratio stood at 10 percent at the end of 2013.

That is below the 11.1 percent recorded in September and includes the state aid, the bulk of which Monte dei Paschi is due to reimburse this year.

The bank also said it had renewed a pre-underwriting agreement with banks for an already announced 3 billion euro capital increase to take place after mid-May. ($1 = 0.7212 euros) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Lisa Jucca and David Goodman)

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