MILAN, April 12 Mid-sized Italian lender Banca
Popolare di Vicenza and its smaller rival Banca
Etruria have entered exclusive merger talks, they said
in separate statements on Saturday.
Banca Etruria agreed not to start tie-up negotiations with
any other until May 30 in order to allow Popolare Vicenza to
present a binding offer, the banks said.
Smaller banks have borne the brunt of Italy's recession and
are being encouraged by the Bank of Italy to merge to shore up
their finances as the European Central Bank reviews their asset
Banca Etruria, which has 175 branches, has also attracted
interest from larger Italian bank Banca Popolare dell'Emilia
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)