TOKYO, March 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Daishi Bank Ltd and Hokuetsu Bank Ltd are in the final stages of agreeing to integrate their operations, public broadcaster NHK said on Thursday, another move to consolidate regional lenders as the nation's population shrinks.
The two banks, based in Niigata prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast in the north of the country, are looking to form a joint holding company by around next spring to bolster their operational bases, NHK said, without citing the sources for the information.
Representatives from Daishi Bank and Hokuetsu Bank were not immediately available for comment.
Japan has roughly 100 regional banks, but the shrinking population and the Bank of Japan's negative interest-rate policy are putting the squeeze on many lenders, prompting a few to begin merging and taking other steps to shore up operations. (Reporting by Junko Fujita and Thomas Wilson; Writing by William Mallard)