Popolare Vicenza Puts Shares on Sale as Fund Readies IPO Backup

Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA, the Italian lender that needs to raise $2 billion to ensure its survival, started seeking investors for an initial public offering as a government-orchestrated fund edges closer to backing the sale.

Pop. Vicenza put its shares on sale after receiving regulatory approval for the offering, the bank said in a statement Thursday. The Atlante bank-rescue fund, said earlier that it received the Italian market regulator’s approval to operate and has exceeded its goal of raising 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion), two of the steps needed to replace UniCredit SpA as the IPO’s underwriter.

The fund is preparing to buy any unsold shares in Pop. Vicenza’s upcoming stock offering and will do so even if the bank doesn’t succeed in obtaining a stock-market listing, Atlante manager Quaestio said separately.

Pop. Vicenza set a symbolic IPO price of 10 cents to 3 euros a share on Tuesday after saying few investors expressed interest in the sale. The European Central Bank warned that without a capital increase, the lender would need to draw on creditor funds to bolster its buffers.

The Vicenza, Italy-based bank said 75 percent of the offer is reserved for institutional investors, with the rest for current shareholders and retail investors.

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