SocGen open to sale of Equipment Finance unit in strategy review-sources

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Logo of French bank Societe Generale in La Defense near Paris

People walk past a logo of French bank Societe Generale in front of the company's skyscraper at the financial and business district of La Defense near Paris, France September 14, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

LONDON/PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) is open to a sale of its Equipment Finance business as the French bank's new CEO Slawomir Krupa embarks on a broad strategic revamp, people familiar with the company told Reuters.

The bank sees the business as non-core, having sold part of its operations in 2020, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. But a transaction may not happen soon because difficult market conditions weigh on the unit's valuation, they said.

Krupa, who will present SocGen's new strategic plan on Monday, will try to convince investors he can boost returns while setting achievable goals in a challenging environment marked by slowing economic growth.

The bank's shares trade at 34% of their book value, almost on par with Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) but half of the multiple of its bigger French rival BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and Italy's UniCredit (CRDI.MI), amid concerns about the company's exposure to more volatile income from investment banking.

A spokesperson for SocGen declined to comment.

Societe Generale is also said to be mulling options for its asset custody division, based on media reports.

Societe Generale Equipment Finance provides equipment leasing and financing solutions to manufacturers, dealers and vendors in sectors ranging from transport to industrials.

The business employed 1,400 people and had roughly 24 billion euros ($25.6 billion) of loans outstanding at the end of last year, including partnerships, based on SocGen's latest annual figures.

SocGen is unlikely to commit to major sales of businesses at the upcoming investor day, and Krupa may indicate an intention to prune non-core units over time, the people also said.

Rather than naming non-core businesses, Krupa is more likely to outline the group's growth areas, said one person familiar with the bank's thinking.

($1 = 0.9392 euros)

Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Mathieu Rosemain and Andres Gonzalez; Additional reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley; Editing by Elisa Martinuzzi, Silvia Aloisi and Jane Merriman

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As part of Reuters' Deals team, Pablo covers equity and debt capital markets transactions across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, from initial public offerings to buyout financings. He previously worked at Mergermarket, Euromoney and Spanish digital media. Contact: +447721821589

Mathieu is part of Reuters' finance team, covering French banks and major M&A stories in the country and in Europe. A graduate of Sciences Po university, Mathieu previously covered the Tech beat at Reuters, following stints at Bloomberg News and French business daily Les Echos.

Andres Gonzalez covers M&A for Reuters, based in London. With over 12 years of experience as a correspondent in Spain, he has reported on diverse sectors, including banking, TMT, energy, infrastructure and real estate. Andres has also reported on significant breaking news events, such as the Barcelona attacks and several general elections, showcasing his versatility and ability to handle critical and time-sensitive stories Andres' journalism career began at Reuters in Spain, where he honed his expertise in financial reporting. Seeking new challenges, he ventured into the world of Public Relations, working for Banco Santander with a particular focus on Wealth Management and Investment Banking divisions. His experience in both journalism and PR has provided him with a well-rounded perspective on the financial industry. Contact: +34636287872

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