Italy's Monte Paschi raises 4.99 bln euros in shares sale

Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena said Friday it had raised 4.99 billion euros ($6.81 billion) through share sales in a move which should boost its standing with the European Central Bank.

Shareholders at the bank, the country's third-largest by number of branches, pledged to buy 99.85 percent of its 5 billion-euro rights offering.

The sale will allow it to repay state aid and increase the chances it could pass a health test the ECB is carrying out on eurozone lenders.

"The excellent result of the capital increase allows us to look to the future with renewed energy," chief executive Fabrizio Viola was quoted as saying in the statement.

The sale would allow the bank to "pay back around 3.5 billion euros to the Italian government, including interest," he said.