Banco Popolare SC’s shareholders signed up to almost all of the Italian bank’s 1 billion-euro ($1.1 billion) rights offering, supplying the firm with fresh funding ahead of its merger with Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl.

The bank secured pledges to buy 462.7 million new shares, or 99.4 percent of the offering, it said in a statement filed with the Milan stock exchange. Unexercised rights will be sold on the market from June 24 to June 30.

The share sale is a key component of the lender’s plan to merge with Banca Popolare di Milano, a transaction that will create Italy’s third-largest lender, with 171 billion euros of assets. Banco Popolare is tapping investors to comply with European Central Bank demands for bigger capital buffers before the combination.

The nation’s banks are pressing ahead with a series of share sales, with Veneto Banca SpA also seeking to raise 1 billion euros, amid weak demand for bank stocks in Europe and lingering concern about the country’s bad-loan problem. Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA’s initial public offering last month attracted little investor interest, and a state-orchestrated rescue fund had to step in to buy the shares.

Banco Popolare’s stock was sold at 2.14 euros a share. Investors had rights to buy nine shares for every seven they hold. Bank of America Corp. and Mediobanca SpA are managing the sale.

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