Crédit Agricole may follow its peers in launching asset sale

 
City A.M. Reporter
Crédit Agricole, France’s third-biggest bank by market value, is expected to follow bigger rivals BNP Paribas and Société Générale in launching asset sales after the sharp falls in their share prices in recent weeks.

Retail-focused Crédit Agricole is a different beast from BNP and SocGen. It has already restructured its investment bank and cut high-risk activities after an overambitious expansion in the years leading up to the 2008 crisis.

But analysts and sources familiar with the bank say it is not immune to the lethal cocktail of higher dollar funding costs and heightened fears over a Greek default that have spurred on banks to speed up asset sales.

Separately, an executive at the bank said it was planning to close down its Middle East North Africa (MENA) mergers and acquisitions business in Dubai and move the operations back to its Paris office.

Majority owned by a network of retail banking cooperatives with strong roots in French agriculture, Crédit Agricole has seen its share price slump by 52 per cent since the end of June as the euro debt crisis has worsened and thrown a spotlight on the French banks’ overstretched balance sheets.