Italy banks could take more than 200 bln euro of TLTRO funds-Visco

ROME, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:19am EDT

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ROME, July 10 (Reuters) - Italian banks could draw more than 200 billion euros of funds the European Central Bank is due to offer as part of a new long-term loan programme worth up to 1 trillion euros, Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said.

Speaking to an audience of Italian bankers on Thursday, Visco also said that the ECB loan programme, known as TLTRO, could raise Italy's anaemic gross domestic product by between 0.5 percent and 1 percent by 2016, when the offer is due to end.

"The amount potentially available to Italian banks is considerable, it could exceed 200 billion euros over the entire time-span of the programme," Visco said. The programme is due to start this year.

Visco reiterated that the ECB is ready to consider new measures to lift euro zone inflation towards its 2 percent target, including the acquisition of assets on a large scale.

Turning to Italy's banking sector, saddled with around 165 billion euros of bad debt, Visco said state intervention could help banks offload their capital-consuming non-performing loans (NPLs). But any action should be in line with EU rules.

Banks have started to sell to specialised investors chunks of their bad-quality loans, but sales have been slow. Transactions seen in the first months of 2014 are expected to cut the overall stock of NPLs by a meagre 5 billion euros, Visco said in his speech.

Visco also said that the euro zone crisis and the thorough review of banks' balance sheets that followed has exposed "inadequate, imprudent and incorrect" behaviour at Italian banks.

Economic recovery in Italy "is struggling to take hold," Visco said.

Italian gross domestic product declined by 0.1 percent in the first quarter and earlier on Thursday data showed industrial output dropped 1.2 percent month-on-month in May, posting its steepest monthly fall since November 2012. (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Francesca Piscioneri, writing by Lisa Jucca)

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