Banco Popolare reappoints top management ahead of share offer

MILAN, March 30 Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:24am EDT

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MILAN, March 30 (Reuters) - Italy's Banco Popolare has re-appointed its top management for another three years ahead of a 1.5 billion-euro ($2 billion) rights share issue that starts on Monday.

Verona-based Banco Popolare said shareholders had confirmed Chief Executive Pier Francesco Saviotti and Chairman Carlo Fratta Pasini through to 2016 at a meeting on Saturday.

The bank incurred a 600 million-euro net loss last year after writing down 1.7 billion euros on doubtful loans in an effort to clean up its balance sheet in preparation for the financial health tests which are due to be conducted on euro zone banks before the European Central Bank takes over as their regulator at the end of the year.

Eight Italian banks are planning to raise fresh capital totalling around 8 billion euros to strengthen their balance sheets, with Banco Popolare's share sale the first to go to market.

The bank is offering investors 17 new shares at 9 euros apiece for every 18 ordinary shares owned.

Following the announcement of the terms, shares in Banco Popolare rose 7 percent on Friday to 18 euros each.

A consortium of banks led by Mediobanca and UBS is guaranteeing the rights issue.

Citing sources in the consortium, Il Messaggero newspaper said on Sunday international investors had offered to buy 300 million euros worth of the new shares.

Thanks to cheaper valuations than rivals, Italian banks have attracted interest from foreign investors betting on a budding recovery in the euro zone countries that were worst hit by the sovereign crisis.

U.S. fund manager BlackRock has become a leading investor in recent weeks in Italy's top three banks, UniCredit , Intesa Sanpaolo and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

Financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore also on Sunday said Banco Popolare's retail clients were expected to cover around 35 percent of the rights issue, with small investors in general accounting for about half of the total. ($1=0.7271 euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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