NEW YORK — Following Citigroup Inc.'s lead, Huntington Bancshares Inc. has asked preferred-stock shareholders to convert their shares into common stock to beef up the company's common equity.

The Columbus, Ohio, bank said Wednesday that certain institutional shareholders agreed to convert 53,809 preferred shares into 11.7 million shares of common stock, increasing tangible common equity to $53.8 million.

That's in addition to Tuesday when Huntington said other preferred shareholders agreed to convert 43,100 preferred shares into nine million shares common stock, which would lift tangible common equity to $43.1 million.

Huntington does not have a formal program in place to convert preferred stock, but some institutional investors approached the bank requesting their shares be converted, a spokeswoman for the bank said. Regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission limits Huntington in how many conversions it can do, but the bank has still room for more, she said.

Huntington's two conversions would lift the company's tangible common equity ratio to over 4.1%. The bank's stock has been among the hardest hit during the course of the financial crisis; it fell almost 80% this year alone.

The stock recently traded Wednesday down 4%, to $1.67.

Tangible common equity, a conservative measure of a bank's capital, has become a hot button for investors. Citigroup, whose capital ratios were already well in excess of regulatory requirement when it announced that it would seek to convert preferred stock, is asking shareholders to support the move to calm common stockholder fears about the percentage of common equity in its overall capital. Private holders of preferred stock have agreed to convert, and Citi is seeking approval from public holders in a proxy vote.

Analyst Terry J. McEvoy of Oppenheimer & Co Inc. wrote in a research report about Huntington's conversion disclosed Tuesday: "The additional shares are approximately 2.8% dilutive to book value and have a de minimis impact on tangible book value.

"We believe Huntington is interested in converting more but could be limited in terms of the absolute number of transactions," he wrote.

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