SocGen buys out minority holders in online broker Boursorama

PARIS Tue May 27, 2014 11:17am EDT

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PARIS May 16 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France's second-largest listed bank, is buying out minority holders in its online broker Boursorama for around 260 million euros ($354.94 million) to increase its presence in the sector.

European lenders like SocGen and rival BNP Paribas are boosting their online business to drive growth in a low interest rate environment and as footfall in branches declines.

SocGen directly holds 75.42 percent of Boursorama's share capital and voting rights after a simplified tender offer opened from May 5 to May 16, up from 55.4 percent previously, the bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

SocGen and Spain's Caixa Group now together own 95.9 percent in the group.

SocGen said on Tuesday it had asked French market regulator AMF to implement the squeeze-out procedure on May 28 for minority shareholders who hold the rest, at the same price as the tender offer of 12 euros a share.

In a strategic plan presented this month, SocGen said it aims to accelerate Boursorama's development, expanding the range of products and services in insurance, security and personal finance management. It plans to triple the number of online customers to 1.5 million by 2020.

Boursorama, which offers online broking, banking and other financial services in France, Germany and Spain, reported an annual loss in 2013, hurt by writedowns on the acquisition value of assets abroad, including Selftrade online brokerage in Britain and German financial portal OnVista.

It said that as a result, 2014 group net income would be near zero.

In the first quarter of this year, Boursorama's net income fell 72 percent year on year to 2.5 million euros, hit by restructuring costs of 7.8 million at Selftrade. Excluding Britain, net income rose 16 percent to 13.1 million euros in the quarter.

($1 = 0.7325 Euros) (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Susan Thomas)

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