MILAN (Reuters) - The European Central Bank has asked several banks to submit a plan by the end of February spelling out how they intend to reduce their problematic loans, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.


The source, who declined to name the banks involved, said the request was a follow-up to the ECB's new guidance on non-performing loans issued last year.


Italy's biggest bank by assets UniCredit <CRDI.MI> earlier on Monday said it had been requested to present such a plan by Feb. 28. Genoa-based Banca Carige <CRGI.MI> must also submit its own plan by that deadline.


Italian banks are saddled with 356 billion euros ($378 billion) of soured debts, a third of the euro zone's total, accumulated during a long recession.


(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Luca Trogni)