The shareholders of Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM) have given the go-ahead to the merger plan of the two Italian cooperative lenders.

Known as Banco BPM, the new combined bank will have €171bn in assets, making it Italy's third-largest bank. It will be headquartered in both Milan as well as Verona.

The merged entity will have 2,500 branches, over 25,000 employees. Banco Popolare shareholders will own 54% of the combined entity, while the rest will be owned by Banca Popolare di Milano shareholders.

The deal was announced by the banks in March 2016, and secured the regulatory approval last month.

The merger was previously delayed as the two banks struggled to comply with higher capital requirements. However, in June 2016, Banco Popolare raised the €1bn that it required to complete the merger with BPM.