May 17, 2014 / 5:01 PM / 3 years ago

Veneto Banca will consider mergers only after ECB review -report

MILAN, May 17 (Reuters) - Italy's Veneto Banca will consider merger opportunities only after an ongoing asset quality review by the European Central Bank, financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore cited Chairman Francesco Favotto as saying.

The unlisted bank is one of 15 Italian lenders being scrutinised by the European Central Bank in a check-up of banking assets. The ECB will officially take on oversight of euro zone lenders from national authorities in November.

The Bank of Italy has told Veneto Banca to consider possible mergers as part of efforts to strengthen Italy's fragmented banking system and shore up lenders' capital base.

There has been speculation about a tie-up between Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, another cooperative lender located in Italy's wealthy northeast, but Favotto said this was out of the question.

"Such a move would only bring economies of scale, but not economies of scope," he told the paper, adding that the lender was looking for options that would give added value to the bank.

"We will see after the asset quality review. One possibility, also highlighted by the report delivered to us in recent days by advisor Goldman Sachs, is to place Veneto Banca in the European context, maybe via an alliance with foreign institutes. But we are still thinking about this."

Favotto said this would be one of the topics discussed during a meeting with the Bank of Italy on Monday, along with the lender's plans to establish an advisory board.

Favotto said the bank's planned sale of its stake in private banking unit Banca Intermobiliare was "in the final stages".

"I confirm that there are four offers, one of which particularly significant," Favotto said. "A binding offer will arrive on the board of directors' table June 17 or July 1."

The stake sale, along with a capital increase due to be launched on June 20 and concluded by end-July and the conversion of a 350 million euro bond into equity, is expected to raise the lender's Common Equity Tier 1 ratio to 11.3 percent, he said, above the 8 percent minimum requirement set by the ECB.

The bank could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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