Banco Popolare says successfully closed 1.5 bln euros share sale

MILAN, April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:23pm EDT

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MILAN, April 17 (Reuters) - Banco Popolare said on Thursday it had successfully closed its capital increase for 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion), the first Italian lender to tap the market for funds ahead of Europe-wide health check of the sector.

Banco Popolare, one of 15 Italian lenders under scrutiny in the asset review by European regulators, said in a statement the share sale had been 99.14 percent subscribed.

The capital increase was fully underwritten by a consortium of banks headed by Mediobanca and UBS.

Banco Popolare and seven other Italian banks have announced plans to raise a combined 8 billion euros to boost their capital base before the results of the review are revealed later this year.

That amount is likely to increase to 10 billion euros on Friday as Monte dei Paschi di Siena's board is expected to hike the size of its own rights issue to 5 billion euros from the 3 billion euros previously pencilled in.

($1 = 0.7228 Euros) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi)

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