Natixis to simplify its structure and pay out a special dividend

City A.M. Reporter

FRENCH bank Natixis said yesterday it would simplify its finances by shed- ding a 20 per cent stake in BPCE, a network of cooperative lenders which controls it, paving the way for higher dividends in the future.

Natixis said it would sell €12bn (£10bn) in investment certificates through which it owned a fifth of parent company BPCE to BPCE and its cooperative shareholders.

BPCE and Natixis plan to unveil a new three-year strategic business plan in the second half of the year, Natixis executives said.

The move to restructure its ties with BPCE group, one of France’s largest cooperative lenders, will allow Natixis to pay out a €2bn one-time special dividend to shareholders, worth €0.65 a share, the bank said in a statement.

The bank, which was rescued from near-collapse during the 2008 financial crisis by a government-backed merger of its retail cooperative parents, has been undergoing a multi-year restructuring plan aimed at selling off risky assets.

“The device of the CCI certificates had become very complex,” BPCE chairman Francois Perol said.

“Natixis’ risk profile is such that something originally conceived as a stabiliser is no longer necessary.”

Natixis shares are up 11 per cent so far this year, outperforming the European banking sector, which is up 7.7 per cent over the same period.

Natixis also reported a 40 per cent drop in fourth quarter net income to €181m – hit by accounting adjustments on the value of its own debt – and said it would pay out a regular dividend of 10 cents a share.