By Sophie Sassard
LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - The top managers at Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena
Chairman Alessandro Profumo and Chief Executive Fabrizio Viola both threatened to resign last month after their proposal for an immediate 3 billion-euro ($4 billion) share sale was voted down at a shareholder meeting.
Both are among Italy's most respected bankers and their departure in the middle of a tough turnaround plan would have dealt a serious blow to Monte dei Paschi's hopes to pull off the rights issue, whose size is bigger than its market value.
Tuesday's board meeting is the first since shareholders postponed the share issue, which the Tuscan lender needs to pay back a 4.1-billion-euro state bailout and avert nationalisation, to mid-May at the earliest.
"Everybody expects Viola and Profumo to stay. This would be the best solution to avoid further disruption and eventually get this deal done," said an investment banker close to Monte dei Paschi.
A second banker familiar with the situation said he thought the pair would remain, while a union official who took part in talks earlier on Monday with Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni about Monte dei Paschi said the minister did not expect any "radical move" at the board meeting.
Neither Profumo nor Viola were immediately available for comment. The bank declined to comment.
The lender's top shareholder, a not-for-profit banking foundation with close ties to local politicians, needs more time to sell part or all of its 33.5 percent stake to pay back 340 million euros in debts.
According to three bankers familiar with the issue, the foundation is in talks with other banking foundations and private equity and hedge funds, including Blackstone
The foundation, which has denied that a deal with other foundations is being discussed, declined to comment on Monday.
(additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei in Rome, Paola Arosio and Silvia Aloisi in Milan; Editing by Lisa Jucca and Mark Potter)