City A.M. Reporter
SHAREHOLDERS in UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank, yesterday approved a rights issue of up to €4bn (£3.56bn) aimed at shoring up lagging capital ratios.<br /><br />The clearance by shareholders was widely expected. The capital increase is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2010, the bank said.<br /><br />UniCredit , Europe’s fourth-biggest bank by market value, in the third quarter slightly beat its goal to boost its Core Tier 1 ratio, a standard of capital held against risky assets.<br /><br />The bank had been at the low end among big European banks but reached 7.55 per cent for Core Tier 1 at the end of September.<br /><br />The figure could reach 8.39 per cent with the completion of the rights issue, UniCredit’s second capital increase this year, the bank has said.<br /><br />During the shareholder meeting yesterday, UniCredit chief executive Alessandro Profumo said the bank did not plan any new job cuts.<br /><br />In other comments at the meeting, he said the bank had asked antitrust authorities for a six-month delay in selling its 3.2 per cent stake in Assicurazioni Generali.<br /><br />“The authority believes our request is acceptable,” he said. <br /><br />Sources close to the antitrust authorities confirmed the request for a six-month delay to 30 June had been accepted, noting the bank will continue not to exercise its voting rights relating to the stake.<br /><br />UniCredit shares closed up 1.8 per cent at €2.57.<br /><br />Last week Unicredit said net profit for the quarter to September dropped 20 per cent on the quarter to €94m. It said revenue fell from an exceptional second quarter, offsetting the effects of its cost and job cutting.