Credit Agricole Italy sees no reason to change 'fair' bid for Creval

MILAN (Reuters) - A cash takeover offer announced by the Italian arm of Credit Agricole for rival Creval is “fair” and there would be no reason to change it, the head of the unit said in a newspaper interview on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A Credit Agricole logo is seen outside a bank office in Vertou near Nantes, France, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

France’s Credit Agricole this month offered 10.50 euro ($12.57) a share to buy the third-tier Italian lender, for an overall investment of 737 million euros.

Creval has said the offer was “unexpected and not previously agreed” and sources have said it will fight it to get a better price.

Giampiero Maioli told Il Corriere della Sera’s L’Economia that Credit Agricole’s bid fully takes into account Creval’s turnaround and offers one the highest premiums in the industry.

“It’s a fair offer, why should we change it?” Maioli said when asked if there could be room to raise the price.

“This is the only all-cash bid in Italy for the past 20 years...We consider it friendly because it generates value for everyone: shareholders, customers and employees”,” he added.

Sources said last week the price was too low given the tax benefits Italy has drawn up to encourage mergers. The tax breaks are due to be approved by the end of the year as part of the government’s 2021 budget.

Analyst have said Credit Agricole has room to improve the bid given its current terms entail only an up to 0.2 percentage point erosion of its core capital.

Credit Agricole’s move came after talks ran aground for a more ambitious tie-up with Banco BPM, Italy’s third-largest bank with 187 billion euros in assets versus Creval’s 24 billion.

France’s second-biggest bank has a long-standing consumer credit partnership with Banco BPM.

“From a strategic point of view, however, a deal with Banco BPM would have had a completely different impact”, Maioli said, without elaborating further.

At 0915 GMT, shares in Creval were flat at 11.33 euros, after a jump of more than 30% last week, indicating the market is betting on Credit Agricole sweetening its offer.

($1 = 0.8354 euros)

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, Andrea Mandalà, editing by Valentina Za and Louise Heavens