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Monte dei Paschi sets guidelines for new restructuring plan

The entrance of Monte Dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
The entrance of Monte Dei Paschi bank headquarters is pictured in Siena January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena said on Wednesday its board had discussed the guidelines for a new restructuring plan as it seeks to win a green light from the European Commission for a 4.1 billion euro ($5.45 billion) state bailout.

The new plan will be submitted to the board for approval on September 24, the lender said in a note, without giving any details.

Italy's third largest bank said earlier this week it would approve a tougher than initially expected restructuring plan to comply with European Union demands, confirming investor fears it is struggling to emerge from the euro zone debt crisis.

The EU told the bank over the weekend to carry out a 2.5 billion euro capital increase if it wants EU approval of the state bailout it received earlier this year.

The required cash call is more than twice the 1 billion euro capital increase initially planned by the bank and matches the lender's current market capitalization, raising the prospect of Monte dei Paschi falling under direct state control.

Speaking at a separate event late on Wednesday, Chief Executive Fabrizio Viola said the new plan would be very similar to the original one put together in June, but it included various strengthening measures to better respond to an economic scenario that has since worsened.

Asked if it would be possible to save the bank, he said: "It will be very difficult, but it is doable."

"The main hope is that the overall environment does not deteriorate and that in the medium to long term the market improves," he told journalists on the sidelines of a pharmaceuticals conference in Florence.

The latest financial woes compound ongoing legal troubles the 540-year-old lender is facing over its expensive acquisition of rival Antonveneta in 2008 and loss-making derivative trades the Siena-based bank made in the deal's aftermath.

Though the bank is the only Italian lender among several European banks to have got state aid, its woes have become a symbol of the deeper troubles of Italy's financial sector - an economy that has not grown in more than a decade and clumsy ownership structures often more focused on politics than business.

($1 = 0.7518 euros)

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak in Milan and Silvia Ognibene in Florence; editing by David Evans)

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