Carige CEO sees small investors taking up to 31 pct of cash call

MILAN Fri May 16, 2014 5:56am EDT

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MILAN May 16 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Banca Carige said on Friday small investors in the Italian bank were expected to take up to 31 percent of an upcoming 800 million euro ($1.1 billion) rights issue.

"We believe it's fair to assume that around 200-250 million euros of the rights issue can be covered through our branch network," CEO Piero Montani told analysts on a conference call.

Genoa-based Carige posted on Thursday a 65 percent drop in first-quarter net profit on lower revenues as it sharply cut assets to shore up its capital base.

At 6.5 percent of risk-weighted assets, the bank's best-quality capital is currently below a minimum 8 percent threshold set by the European Central Bank in a review of the banking sector this year.

The bank, one of 15 in Italy targeted by the review, expects the rights issue to boost the best-quality capital ratio to 9.5 percent.

The bank's biggest investor, the Carige foundation, which owns more than 40 percent of the lender, has no money to invest in the cash call and is looking for a buyer after regulators authorised a cut in its holding to 19 percent.

($1 = 0.7291 Euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Mark Potter)

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