MILANO, May 8 (Reuters) - Italy's fourth-largest bank BPER Banca on Wednesday stuck to a full-year forecast for a net profit in line with 2023, despite declining interest rates, after reporting a 57% jump in first quarter net income.

In the first set of results after naming as its new chief executive veteran UniCredit banker Gianni Franco Papa, BPER said net income totalled 457.3 million euros for the three months to March 31, up from 290.7 million a year earlier.

That compared with an average estimate in an analyst consensus compiled by Reuters of 453 million euros.

Income from its lending business rose 16.2% annually to 843.6 million euros, in line with expectations. Total revenue rose 2% between January and March to 1.35 billion euros, supported also by a 0.9% increase in net fees

BPER said income from the gap between lending and deposit rates would narrow "slightly" in 2024, while a positive trend in net fees would continue to support revenues, with costs remaining stable.

BPER in April appointed Papa, 68, to replace Piero Montani, the previous CEO who fell out with the bank's top investor, financial group Unipol. (Reporting by Andrea Mandalà, editing by Valentina Za)