Monte dei Paschi's cash call 93% covered so far despite low shareholder take-up



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Cash call 74% covered by shareholders, state accounts for 64%

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Sub-underwriters to put in 475 mln euros

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Overall take-up seen rising above current 93%

By Valentina Za

MILAN, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena BMPS.MI said its up to 2.5 billion euro ($2.5 billion) capital increase had been 93% covered so far thanks to accords with investors that offset in part a low take-up by the bank's shareholders.

Monday was the last day for shareholders in the world's oldest bank to exercise rights to buy into its seventh cash call in 14 years.

When excluding the state, which contributed 1.6 billion euros towards the capital raising based on its 64% stake, shareholders only took it up for another 10%, Monte dei Paschi (MPS) said.

MPS said it had raised a total of 1.847 billion euros from existing shareholders.

However, it added it had placed another 475 million euros' worth of new shares with investors who had signed binding sub-underwriting accords.

These investors include MPS' insurance partner AXA AXAF.PA , holders of the bank's junior bonds such as funds Pimco, Melqart and BlueBay, plus several Italian banking foundations, which are under Treasury oversight and have been urged to help out.

Taking into account these commitments, MPS said it could count on a total of 2.3 billion euros, a figure which could further rise in the following two days.

Unexercised rights will be sold on the Milan bourse on Tuesday and Wednesday, and that is expected to further reduce the amount underwriters will be saddled with below 100 million euros.

The group of eight banks plus London-based fund Algebris that have agreed to back the capital raising will pocket much higher than normal fees to offset likely losses on the new shares.

The have also demanded that MPS struck sub-underwriting accords covering at least half of the 900 million euro portion of the share sale that had to be financed by private investors due to European Union rules on state aid.

Given its shrunken market value in relation to the size of the cash call, MPS has been forced to price the new shares above the multiples at which healthier peers trade, leading analysts to expect a drop in price as soon as they start trading.

($1 = 1.0117 euros)
Reporting by Valentina Za Editing by Keith Weir and David Evans

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