Unicredit shareholders approve Italy's largest ever rights issue

Shareholders at Unicredit have given the thumbs up to the bank's €13bn rights issue.

Italy's largest bank announced the country's largest ever rights issue last month in a bid to rebalance its finances as part of its ongoing turnaround plan, with the shares set to be issued by June.

The bank's investors Thursday granted the lender their approval, with 99.6 per cent of the votes at a shareholders' meeting being in favour of the rights issue.

Unicredit's relatively new chief executive Jean Pierre Mustier has taken a number of measures to secure the health of the bank, including selling various non-essential assets and announcing plans to cut 14,000 jobs by 2019.

Read more: Italian parliament approves €20bn bailout plan for banks

Shares in the bank closed down 1.8 per cent at €2.58.

By contrast, Italy's third largest lender, Monte dei Paschi di Siena is awaiting financial help from the government, after a private sector rescue plan for the bank collapsed just before Christmas last year.

The Italian banking sector as a whole is creaking under billions of euros worth of non-performing loans.

Read more: Italian bank shares are down after Moody's downgrade

December's 'no' vote in the Italian constitutional referendum likely gave bankers little to be cheerful about in the immediate aftermath, as it ultimately resulted in the resignation of Matteo Renzi. The former Prime Minister of Italy was widely reported to have gone to bat for the banks, locking horns at an EU level last summer as he tried to secure a bailout for the sector.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued this morning, Unicredit confirmed it was carrying out the rights issue of its own free will and had not been instructed to do so by any supervisory authority.

The European Banking Authority's stress tests for 2016 revealed that Monte dei Paschi's capital would be wiped out in the event of a serious economic downturn, while Unicredit was on the weaker end of the the 51 European banks tested.

Full story: Unicredit shareholders approve Italy's largest ever rights issue: City A.M.

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