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RABAT, April 17 (Reuters) - Morocco’s government has sold its remaining 6 percent stake in lender Banque Centrale Populaire S.A (BCP), the finance ministry said on Thursday.
It did not disclose the value of the deal but L‘Economiste newspaper said the government would raise 2 billion dirhams ($246.38 million) from the sale.
The sale to Banque Populaire’s regional affiliates would reduce the state’s interest to one symbolic share in the bank, one of the country’s top three lenders.
BCP takes the deposits held by the regional affiliates and invests them on their behalf. The government started to sell its stake in BCP in 2002 to give the regional banks more say over its activities.
The government sold 20 percent of the bank in May 2011 and another 10 percent in 2012 as it struggled to plug wide trade and budget deficits and raise funds for social spending after street protests sparked by the Arab Spring uprisings.
The regional banks will hold 50.46 percent of BCP after the state’s sale of around 10 million shares. The rest is held by several insurers and pension funds or is tradeable free float.
BCP shares were down 0.36 percent on Thursday at 191.30 dirhams. The stock has fallen by around 20 percent from its level when the government sold the 20 percent stake in 2011.
Like other Moroccan banks, Banque Populaire has been expanding south into fast-growing sub-Saharan economies. In 2012, it bought 50 percent of Banque Atlantique, active in Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. ($1 = 8.1174 Moroccan Dirhams) (Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by David Goodman and Tom Pfeiffer)