MILAN Jan 31 Italian lender Banco Popolare
aims to launch and complete its 1.5 billion euro ($2
billion) rights issue in April, its chairman and chief executive
said in a letter to shareholders.
Italy's fourth-largest bank announced plans for the cash
call this month when it warned that loan-loss charges of 1.7
billion euros have taken its full-year loss to a bigger than
expected 600 million euros.
Banco Popolare has said that UBS and Mediobanca
would guarantee the cash call, with shareholder
approval expected by March.
The move by Banco Popolare could hit the fundraising plans
of rival lenders as competition to attract investors increases
amid concerns that higher than expected loan losses could
require further recapitalisation.
The letter from Chairman Carlo Fratta Pasini and CEO Pier
Francesco Saviotti, which was seen by Reuters on Friday, said
the shareholder meeting to approve the cash call will be held on
March 1 and the gathering to approve annual results and renew
the board would meet on March 29.
"This will allow a timely launch so that the capital
increase can be be completed in the following month of April,"
they said in the letter.
Separately on Friday, Moody's changed its outlook on Banco
Popolare's 'Ba3' credit rating to positive from negative to
reflect the bank's measures to strengthen its capital adequacy.
($1 = 0.7415 euros)
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Anthony Barker)