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SocGen targets dealmaking to boost investment bank

Stock MarketsMay 10, 2021 13:17
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of French bank Societe Generale is seen outside a bank building in Paris, France, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

By Matthieu Protard

PARIS (Reuters) -Societe Generale said on Monday it plans to revamp its corporate and investment banking businesses by shifting resources into dealmaking and reducing its trading arm's exposure to market swings.

France's third-largest listed bank said it is looking to boost profitability in the investment banking division and stabilise revenue after its flagship equity derivatives business, long a strength, was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

"Global Markets will deliver... a more predictable performance," SocGen's Head of Global Markets Jean-Francois Gregoire told analysts.

SocGen's Head of Global Banking and Investor Solutions division Slawomir Krupa told reporters that the bank had no plan to shut down activities as part of the profitability push.

"For the future, cost reductions will come from work on the cost structure", Krupa said.

The bank seeks to grow its advisory business where it is currently a second tier player when it comes to advising on mergers and acquisitions and capital raising globally, trailing behind most major U.S. and European investment banks.

Last year it ranked 21st globally for advising on debt raising, according to Refinitiv data, though it has a stronger presence in areas like green equity deals and asset finance.

Krupa said the bank would expand in financing and advisory, mostly through organic growth.

Shares in SocGen were up 2.73% at 1155 GMT.

SOCGEN TARGETS COST BASE REDUCTION

The bank said it targeted a return on normative equity of more than 10% in its global banking and investor solutions businesses from 2023, up from 7% now.

The lender also said it targeted a cost base of between 5.5 billion euros and 5.7 billion euros ($6.69 billion-$6.93 billion) in 2023 in its global banking and investor solutions businesses, from around 5.8 billion euros in 2020, as it presses on with previously announced savings.

Chief Executive Frederic Oudea has accelerated an overall revamp of businesses underway since 2018, in one of his last chances to shore up his legacy before his term expires in 2023.

The bank has already exited areas where it lacked scale, selling units and activities in eastern and central European countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania.

It also either quit or cut back some corporate and investment bank (CIB) activities, such as commodities trading. As part of initiatives to revamp CIB operations, SocGen entered in exclusive talks last month to sell most of its asset management arm Lyxor for 825 million euros to Amundi, which was formed after SocGen and Credit Agricole (PA:CAGR) merged the bulk of their asset management in 2009. SocGen has also previously announced plans to merge its two French retail networks, resulting in branch closures and cost savings.

The bank's shares have risen 50% so far this year after falling to near 30-year lows in 2020, boosted by a rebound in its markets business and expectations loan losses caused by the pandemic will be lower than previously forecast.

But SocGen's market value is still less than half what it was when Oudea took over in 2008 in the wake of huge losses on equity derivatives caused by rogue trader Jerome Kerviel.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

SocGen targets dealmaking to boost investment bank
 

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