Crédit Agricole to bid for Banco BPM insurance units, in competition with AXA

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After taking a minority stake in the third Italian bank, Crédit Agricole SA intends to make an offer for the insurance activities of Banco BPM SpA, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The French bank is ready to compete with AXA SA or other potential suitors to take a majority stake once the Italian lender takes full ownership of the current local partnerships, the sources said, asking not to be identified as the plans are not public.

While Crédit Agricole aimed to engage in exclusive talks over the units, valued at around 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion), Banco BPM is likely to begin a formal process involving other players as well. interested, the sources said. Bilateral talks between Credit Agricole and Banco BPM would raise regulatory questions about transactions “with related parties”, they said.

A Banco BPM spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Crédit Agricole declined to comment. Banco BPM, which was down 2.3% at the start of trading in Milan, pared some losses after the Bloomberg report and was down 0.8% at 11:40 a.m.

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Credit Agricole had already had informal contact with Banco BPM earlier this year over the units and the announcement last week that it had taken a 9.18% stake in the Milan-based lender was intended to discourage rivals to seek to deepen their involvement. The French lender told the Italian Treasury that the move did not signal its intention to take over Banco BPM, some people said.

A Treasury spokesman declined to comment on the matter. Earlier on Thursday, Reuters reported Credit Agricole’s communication with the Treasury.

Banco BPM, Italy’s third-largest bank, has recently been at the center of speculation that it is a takeover target for big lenders. Ahead of the purchase of Credit Agricole’s stake, UniCredit SpA said in February it was evaluating all strategic options in response to questions about a report that it would be interested in acquiring Banco BPM.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that AXA was in preliminary talks to buy a majority stake in Banco BPM’s insurance business, though buying Credit Agricole’s stake could end those efforts.

–With the help of Alessandra Migliaccio.

Photography: Crédit Agricole headquarters in Paris. Photo credit: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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