VICENZA, Italy, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Banca Popolare di Vicenza approved a cash call of up to 1 billion euros to fund the possible takeover of another lender and strengthen its capital in a move seen spearheading a wave of mergers and acquisitions among smaller Italian banks.
Pop Vicenza, based in the wealthy northeastern region of Veneto, said the cash call would be split in two tranches - one of 700 million euros ($959.18 million) for existing shareholders and the rest for new investors.
Unlisted Popolare Vicenza is one of 15 Italian lenders under scrutiny by the European Central Bank. It has expressed interest for rivals Veneto Banca and Popolare Etruria. ($1 = 0.7298 euros) (Reporting by Andrea Mandala, writing by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Lisa Jucca)