November 16, 2017 / 4:32 PM / in a year

Macron names new chief to reinvent French public-sector lender CDC

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday tapped the former Generali France CEO, Eric Lombard, to head public-sector lender Caisse des Depots (CDC) and breathe new life into the 200-year-old institution.

Lombard, a former advisor in Socialist governments in the 1990s, rose through the ranks of BNP Paribas bank before taking the helm of the Italian insurer’s French business in 2013.

His nomination must be confirmed in both houses of parliament.

The CDC manages deposits in popular tax-free savings accounts and also holds stakes in many top French companies, including CNP Assurances, Icade, the biggest office space developer in the Paris region, and Compagnie des Alpes, which operates the biggest ski resorts in France.

Though still a major lender for municipal projects and social housing, the CDC has been eclipsed by the state investment bank Bpifrance, which was created in 2012 and has become a top investor in French strartups and companies such as telecoms operator Orange.

Macron decided in August to cut short the mandate of CDC’s current head Pierre-Rene Lemas, who was Macron’s boss at the Elysee in the early years of Francois Hollande’s presidency.

One of the biggest questions facing Lombard will be whether to continue with Lemas’ plans to cut stakes in companies not central to the CDC’s mission of supporting the economy, promoting the transition to renewable energies and financing social housing.

Macron, 39, wants to clarify CDC’s role, which also often overlaps with that of state holding company APE, a shareholder in blue-chip firms like Renault and Air France.

“This is not about managing CDC, it’s about reinventing CDC’s role,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters last month.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, Additonal reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Michel Rose, Editing by Leigh Thomas and Richard Lough

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