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March 3, 2008

HSBC sells French network

by Gill Montia

Story link: HSBC sells French network

HSBC is selling its regional French banking division for €2.1 billion, in a move aimed at shifting the group’s focus towards emerging markets, although it will continue to operate in France through its HSBC-branded network.

The bank is in exclusive negotiations with Banque Populaire, the French mutual, which has made an all cash offer for the seven regional banks.

These include Societe Marseillaise de Credit, Banque de Savoie, Banque Chaix and Banque Marze.

Four hundred branches will be affected, all of which were acquired by HSBC when it bought CCF, in 2000.

Banque Populaire is a major French retail banking group, with seven million customers and 2,900 branches; following the acquisition it will retain the brand names and individual identities of the seven banks.

Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC, says: “This is an opportunity to redeploy capital to other investments as we … rebalance our activities towards emerging markets and faster-growing business segments.”

The bank became committed to investing predominantly in emerging markets last year, when shareholders led by Knight Vinke protested at the neglect of opportunities in the Far East.

 

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