July 12, 2018 / 7:07 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-French insurer CNP's chief executive resigns, shares drop

* Shares fall sharply

* CEO resigns for “personal reasons”

* Resignation takes effect Aug. 31

* CNP working on finding new CEO

* CNP has been at centre of recent merger speculation (Updates with share price reaction)

PARIS, July 12 (Reuters) - French insurer CNP, which has been at the centre of recent merger speculation, said its chief executive Frederic Lavenir had resigned for “personal reasons”, causing shares in CNP to fall.

“Frederic Lavenir, CNP Assurances’ Chief Executive Officer, wished to leave his position for personal reasons. His resignation will be effective 31 August 2018,” CNP said in a statement, adding it was working on finding a new CEO.

CNP shares fell following Lavenir’s resignation. The stock was down 3.3 percent in early session trading on Thursday, the worst performer on Paris’ SBF-120 index.

French media reports earlier this year suggested that the country’s state-owned La Poste postal service, which owns a bank with a balance sheet of 230 billion euros ($268.4 billion), could merge with CNP to diversify its range of businesses.

La Poste had said in February that it was in talks with the government and public sector lender the Caisse des Depots (CDC) over possible changes in CNP’s share ownership.

The CDC has a 41 percent stake in CNP, while Sopassure - a joint venture between La Poste and French bank BPCE - holds 36 percent of CNP, according to Reuters data.

CNP has a current stock market capitalisation of around 13 billion euros.

$1 = 0.8568 euro Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bertrand Boucey Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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