Fabrizio Viola, the chief executive of troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, has agreed to quit and allow a new boss to try to convince reluctant investors to back an emergency rescue plan.
The Tuscan lender, which emerged as Europe's weakest bank in stress tests in July, said on Thursday it was working to appoint a successor quickly and that Viola would remain in place until that was done.
Marco Morelli, the head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Italy, was almost certain to take Viola's job, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
"It'll be him at 99.9 percent," the source said, adding the decision to replace Viola was because the bank needed "a change of gear" to persuade investors to buy into a capital increase of up to 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) -- one of the main pillars of its bailout plan.
Another senior source said the bank had "basically" identified a successor for Viola, refusing to give more details.
A person close to Morelli, who was Monte dei Paschi's chief financial officer until 2010, said he had not been contacted for the time being.
A third source said Corrado Passera, who has served as industry minister and headed bank Intesa Sanpaolo, could also be a candidate for the job.
Passera, backed by investment bank UBS, presented a last-ditch rival bailout plan for Monte dei Paschi in July but was rebuffed by the bank's board.