Banco Popolare, Pop. Milano Rise Ahead of Weekend Merger Vote

Banco Popolare SC and Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl rose the most among the biggest European banks on optimism that shareholders will back their merger to create the country’s third-largest lender.

Banco Popolare was trading 4 percent higher at 10:22 a.m. Friday in Milan while Pop. Milano was up 4.9 percent. That compares with a 1.6 percent increase in the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index.

Shareholders of the two cooperative lenders are scheduled to vote Saturday on the proposed merger into a new joint stock company. The combination would be the first since the introduction last year of a law abolishing restrictions on ownership and voting rights, two longstanding obstacles to consolidation among the country’s many cooperatives.

Banco Popolare Chief Executive Officer Pier Francesco Saviotti and Giuseppe Castagna, his counterpart at Popolare Milano, agreed on a merger plan in February after months of negotiations. Castagna would oversee the combined company, while Saviotti would become chairman of the executive committee.

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