UPDATE 1-Italy's BPER to join wave of bank share issues

Tue May 6, 2014 3:06pm EDT

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(Adds Q1 figures, details)

MILAN May 6 (Reuters) - Banca Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna (BPER) became on Tuesday the latest Italian bank planning to tap investors for cash, announcing a 750 million euro ($1 billion) rights issue to strengthen its capital base.

Italy's sixth-largest bank by branches is one of 15 Italian lenders scrutinised by the European Central Bank this year as part of a check-up of the sector across the euro zone. They have announced plans to raise nearly 11 billion euros in fresh capital.

BPER said in a statement it would seek to carry out the share sale by the end of July, to bring its best-quality Common Equity Tier 1 capital under Basel III rules to 10.44 percent against 8.75 percent at the end of March.

The ECB has set an 8 percent minimum threshold for bank regulatory capital. BPER said that a Common Equity capital of more than 10 percent would allow it to meet the best standards on the market and help it go through the ECB's review without concerns.

Analysts say current market conditions are favourable to equity- raising. Relatively cheap valuations for Italian banking shares are luring cash-rich investors ready to bet on the country's recovering economy.

In a sign of improving conditions, BPER on Tuesday posted an attributable net profit of 28.3 million euros for the first quarter, roughly twice the year-ago figure.

As Italian banks continue to face up to the damage that the worst recession since World War II has inflicted on their balance sheets, BPER said loan writedowns in the first quarter stood at 211.8 million euros, up by nearly a third from the first quarter of 2013. ($1 = 0.7177 Euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Lisa Jucca)

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