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Italy discussing Popolare di Bari rescue plan with EU

Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said the government is discussing Banca Popolare di Bari SCpA's rescue plan with the European Union and that the talks are expected to conclude by early June, Reuters reported.

Gualtieri, who was speaking in a parliamentary hearing, said discussions with the bloc will accelerate once Popolare di Bari's administrators present a restructuring plan for the ailing Italian lender anticipated by the middle of April.

The bank, which was placed under administration in December 2019, potentially needs €1.4 billion in fresh capital, although that figure will be confirmed following a thorough evaluation of Popolare di Bari's assets, especially its loan book and possible legal risks, according to the lender's administrator.

The Italian government has approved a €900 million capital injection for Popolare di Bari to be financed by state-owned Banca del Mezzogiorno - MedioCredito Centrale SpA, while the country's deposit guarantee fund, Fondo Interbancario di Tutela dei Depositi, will also offer some funds, including an immediate cash injection of €310 million.

The bank is set to lose the cooperative status as part of its restructuring, while Gualtieri added that the "transformation of the bank into a joint stock company is necessary and fundamental."