MILAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Italy's banking industry rescue fund Atlante expects the European Central Bank to approve a merger for ailing Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, likely requesting state support to ensure the plan's success.
"The ECB is already telling us, and it hasn't been easy, to consider the two banks as one. If things work out, and I have reason to believe they will ... we can close it by early September," Alessandro Penati, chairman of the Quaestio asset manager that runs Atlante, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.
"The ECB would put much of its credibility at stake in authorising the first such merger in Europe ... they want to have a guarantee the plan would be fully funded from the start and have very high chances of success ... precautionary recapitalisation is the way but done in the right way." (Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Agnieszka Flak)