Banco Popular approves 2.5 bn euro capital boost

Shareholders of Spain's fifth-biggest bank Banco Popular on Saturday approved raising 2.5 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in new capital by issuing new stock to boost its capital base rather than accepting bailout aid.

The measure was approved by 99.8 percent of the bank's shareholders during an extraordinary shareholder meeting.

"We have been and remain independent," bank president Angel Ron told the assembly.

Banco Popular announced that it would raise capital itself rather than draw on bailout funds from the eurozone on October 1, following the release of a major audit that showed that it and six other Spanish banks needed tens of billions of euros.

Spain's banking sector is struggling with mountains of bad loans from the collapse of a building boom in 2008.

In the independent audit results of which the government released in late September, Banco Popular was said to need 3.2 billion euros overall.

Under the share issue approved on Saturday, Banco Popular shareholders will be able to buy three new shares for each one they own for 0.401 euros, a steep discount to Friday's closing price of 1.12 euros per share.

The share issue will begin on Monday and the new shares will start trading on the Madrid stock exchange from December 6.

Spain, the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy, secured a rescue loan in June of up to 100 billion euros from its eurozone partners for its banks.

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