ROME Italy's economy minister has called a meeting with some of the country's top bankers on Monday to discuss stalled efforts to sell four small banks that were rescued from bankruptcy last year, sources said.
Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco was expected to join the gathering, which comes just days after sources said the European Union had agreed to extend a Sept. 30 deadline for the sale of the troubled lenders.
Il Messaggero newspaper reported at the weekend that the European Central Bank had rejected a plan put forward by UBI Banca to buy three of the four banks -- Banca Marche, Banca Etruria and CariChieti.
It said the ECB was demanding that UBI should raise 600 million euros in fresh capital if it wanted to pursue the deal. UBI was only prepared to raise a maximum 400 million euros, the paper added in its unsourced article.
The ECB declined to comment on the story.
"The meeting is planned for (Monday) afternoon. There is only one item on the agenda; how to find a solution for the (four) banks," said a source, who declined to be named.
"Frankfurt (the ECB) is putting up ever more hurdles. We have to find a solution now because we can't carry on with this uncertainty," the source said.
Another source said the meeting would be held in the morning.
Two other sources looked to play down the encounter, saying it was a routine gathering of senior bankers, like others already held in Rome earlier this year, with no major announcements expected.
Besides Visco, the head of banking oversight in Italy, Carmelo Barbagallo, was also expected to attend the meeting, along with managers from Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI) and Unicredit (CRDI.MI). Senior executives from UBI (UBI.MI) would probably also be present, a source said.
(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei and Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Crispian Balmer)