(Adds core capital ratio, deal with banks on capital increase)
MILAN, March 12 Troubled Italian lender Monte
dei Paschi di Siena posted a higher than expected 2013
loss of 1.44 billion euros ($2 billion) as it was forced to set
aside more money against bad loans ahead of a health check of
Analysts had forecast a loss of 882 million euros, according
to a consensus distributed by the bank.
The 2013 result compared with a loss of 3.17 billion euros
in 2012 and was the third consecutive loss for the Siena-based
lender bailed out by the Italian government last year with 4.1
billion euros in state aid.
Writedowns on bad debts totalled 2.75 billion euros in 2013,
1.2 billion euros of which came in the fourth quarter as the
bank sought to clean up its balance sheet in the run-up to the
European Central Bank's asset quality review.
Souring loans stemming from Italy's longest recession since
World War Two have become the biggest problem for lenders in the
the euro zone's third-largest economy, eating into profits and
absorbing precious capital.
UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets, this week posted
a record loss of 14 billion euros, hit by loan loss provisions
and writedowns on past acquisitions.
Monte dei Paschi said its Core Tier 1 capital ratio stood at
10 percent at the end of 2013.
That is below the 11.1 percent recorded in September and
includes the state aid, the bulk of which Monte dei Paschi is
due to reimburse this year.
The bank also said it had renewed a pre-underwriting
agreement with banks for an already announced 3 billion euro
capital increase to take place after mid-May.
($1 = 0.7212 euros)
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Lisa Jucca and David