Banque Populaire set to buy HSBC France branches

PARIS Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:42am EST

The logo of British bank HSBC is seen in Paris February 6, 2008. HSBC is poised to put hundreds of its French regional retail branches up for sale, a further sign the bank is shifting its focus to emerging markets, according to media reports on Sunday. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The logo of British bank HSBC is seen in Paris February 6, 2008. HSBC is poised to put hundreds of its French regional retail branches up for sale, a further sign the bank is shifting its focus to emerging markets, according to media reports on Sunday.

Credit: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

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PARIS (Reuters) - Banque Populaire said on Friday it had entered into exclusive talks to buy 400 bank branches being sold by HSBC France, mainly in the south of the country, for 2.1 billion euros ($3.17 billion).

Credit Industriel & Commercial (CIC) and BNP had been the other participants in a final round of bidding, an industry source told Reuters.

The total assets of the regional banks were 8.38 billion euros, with shareholders' equity of 564 million at December 31.

In 2007 they generated net profit of 100 million euros.

Banque Populaire said the acquisition of seven regional banks from HSBC France would improve its own network. The banks are Banque Chaix, Banque Dupuy de Parseval, Banque Marze, Banque Pelletier, Banque de Savoie, Credit Commercial du Sud-Ouest and Societe Marseillaise de Credit. They have some 425,000 private clients and 62,000 business clients.

Banque Populaire said it would keep the identities of the banks, and chairman Philippe Dupont said the buy was a "unique opportunity" for growth.

Mutual bank Banque Populaire had a 2006 net banking income of 8.1 billion euros and a net profit of 1.7 billion on assets of 20.1 billion.

"Banque Federale des Banques Populaires has outlined a strategy for the banks which would make it a good owner for both customers and staff, with a strong respect for the traditions of the banks," HSBC chairman Stephen Green said in a statement.

"This offer is an opportunity for HSBC to redeploy capital to other investments as we pursue our strategy and rebalance our activities towards emerging markets and faster growing business segments," he added.

He said the HSBC-branded branches in France, which are concentrated in France's major urban centers and the greater Paris area, and HSBC's Global Banking and Markets, private banking, commercial banking, asset management and insurance activities were unaffected by the offer.

(Reporting by Marcel Michelson, editing by Will Waterman)

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