NEW Banco Santander chairman Ana Botin has issued a cash-call to strengthen the bank with fundraising.

Botin has asked shareholders for €7.5 billion, about 10% of the bank’s capital value.

Shares for the eurozone’s largest bank were temporarily suspended on the Madrid stock market pending the announcement.

It has led to speculation that Botin could be planning a large acquisition.

Shares in Italy’s Monte Paschi bank – the oldest bank in the world, dating back to 1472 – jumped 8% following Santander’s news.

Monte Paschi has been looking for a buyer since a poor performance in recent bank stress tests.

Santander comfortably passed the stress tests, however there has been speculation about the bank’s capital strength and whether it might float its UK arm.

Botin – who took over from her father Emilio Botin in September – has been making a number of bold changes on the senior board, to make her mark.

These include getting rid of chief executive Javier Marin, replaced by finance director Jose Antonio Alvarez.

Yohan Salleron, an equity manager at France’s Mandarine Gestion, said: “We met Santander one month ago and they didn’t say they needed a capital increase. We need to understand why they need (it).”