Europe's four big economic powers - France, Britain, Germany and Italy - will meet on Saturday in Paris for talks on the global financial crisis, Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said today.

Juncker, Luxembourg's finance minister and chairman of the committee of euro zone finance ministers, said that the four would meet as European members of the Group of Eight industrialised nations.

The French presidency did not confirm the timing of the meeting, however, although President Nicolas Sarkozy had previously said he wants the talks in order to prepare for a later international summit on the global crisis.

An official from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office said he would probably attend if the meeting was confirmed.

In Berlin, German government spokesman Thomas Steg said 'talks were ongoing' on holding a summit that Sarkozy has said would lay the foundations of a new system of 'regulated capitalism'. 'If this meeting is confirmed, Chancellor Angela Merkel will take part,' Steg said.

There was no immediate response from the British government.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the European Union presidency, has called for the four powers to meet the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the Eurogroup.

Juncker applauded Sarkozy's decision to convene a summit, saying he was showing leadership in the search for a global response to the financial crisis triggered by the US sub-prime or higher risk home loan collapse.

European leaders have been scrambling to minimise fallout from the US financial crisis that has sent markets reeling since the September 15 collapse of investment giant Lehman Brothers.

Governments have been forced to bail out several banks over the past days, including the French-Belgian group Dexia that was rescued by Belgium, France and Luxembourg at a cost of €6.4 billion yesterday.

Italy's top bank UniCredit and its nearest rival Intesa Sanpaolo were the latest to run into the financial storm today as their share prices took a battering.