* Stake valued at $2 bln, net gain of around $456.4 mln
* Deal removes concerns over SocGen's 2013 solvency -analyst
* Follows year of asset sales to beef up financial firepower
(Adds analyst quote, background)
By Lionel Laurent and Dinesh Nair
PARIS/DUBAI, Dec 12 Societe Generale will sell
its majority stake in Egypt's National Societe Generale Bank
to Qatar National Bank for $2 billion, as
part of the French bank's bid to meet new capital requirements.
The sale, which is expected to be completed in the first
half of 2013, promises a net gain of around 350 million euros
($456 million) and will lift SocGen's core Tier 1
capital ratio by close to 0.3 percentage points by the end of
next year under Basel III banking rules, the bank said.
"This means there will be no more questions over SocGen's
capital base for 2013," said Natixis analyst Alex Koagne.
He forecast that France's second-biggest bank would have a
Tier 1 ratio of 9.6 percent of risk-weighted assets under Basel
III at the end of 2013. The bank's own target is for 9 to 9.5
percent at the end of 2013.
"This could lead instead to questions over whether SocGen
could pay a cash dividend next year," he said.
SocGen, like domestic rivals BNP Paribas and
Credit Agricole, has spent the past year selling
assets and cutting jobs to beef up its capital reserves and lift
its stock-market valuation in the face of the global economic
slowdown and euro zone debt crisis.
SocGen decided to sell the Egyptian unit even though NSGB
has been one of its best-performing overseas assets.
The deal values NSGB as a whole at $2.56 billion, or two
times its book value as of Sept. 30. SocGen owns 77 percent of
"For QNB, this deal represents a significant move in its bid
to expand regionally," a banking source familiar with the matter
said. "They have the capital to execute large transactions which
is rare in this environment."
Although the total price-tag is lower than NSGB's current
market capitalisation of $2.84 billion, its market value was
around $2.3 billion before SocGen said on Aug. 30 that it was in
talks to sell the stake.
With Egypt locked in fresh political unrest over a push by
President Mohamed Mursi to award himself wide powers, there were
some fears the deal might fall through, said Jean-Pierre
Lambert, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.
"The market was a bit concerned that given the trouble in
Egypt the deal might not take place," he said. "It's positive
that they agreed this before the end of the year as well. It
means they don't have to sell other major assets."
QNB, which has a market value of around $26 billion, has
been on an expansion spree, snapping up stakes in regional
lenders as it seeks to build an emerging market franchise with
the backing of its gas-rich government.
QNB raised its stake in Commercial Bank International to
39.9 percent from 16.5 percent recently. It also increased its
stake in Iraq's Mansour Bank and bought a 49 percent stake in
Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development in April.
However, the lender lost out to Russia's Sberbank in its bid
for Turkey's Denizbank earlier this year.
NSGB, which operates around 160 branches across Egypt, is
one of the largest banks in the North African country and has
assets of around $10.5 billion. It also offers private banking
and investment banking services in Egypt.
BNP Paribas is also seeking bids for the sale of its
Egyptian retail arm, expected to generate around $400 million to
$500 million, sources aware of the matter said in August.
($1 = 0.7693 euros)
(Additional reporting by Christian Plumb in Paris; Editing by
James Regan and Helen Massy-Beresford)