MILAN, March 7 Troubled Italian regional banks
Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca said on Tuesday only
around 30 percent of shareholders targeted by a settlement offer
aimed at reducing the risk of lawsuits had accepted it a week
before its expiry.
Lowering legal risks is key for the two banks, which were
rescued last year by state-sponsored, privately-funded banking
industry fund Atlante and plan to merge before restructuring and
looking for a buyer.
Italy is in talks with European authorities over the two
banks' restructuring plan as the state is set to step in to
cover an estimated 5 billion euro ($5.3 billion) combined
An important element that EU competition authorities assess
before authorising state aid is the chance of the state
recouping its investment with a future sale.
Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca said in January they
would set aside 600 million euros to repay 15 percent of their
investment to thousands of small shareholders who lost all their
money in last year's rescue by Atlante.
The two banks are being probed by prosecutors over the
alleged misselling of shares to retail investors and new
management has said the settlement aims to make them more
attractive to potential buyers.
Shareholders who agree to settle must drop any legal claim
against the lenders.
The offers run until mid-March. Veneto Banca said in a
statement on Tuesday that take-up as of March 6 stood at 34
percent of the shares targeted by the offer and added it may
consider extending the March 15 deadline.
Popolare di Vicenza said shareholders representing 29
percent of eligible shares had agreed to settle as of Tuesday
and it had not yet decided over a possible extension.
($1 = 0.9459 euros)
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)