September 25, 2018 / 5:46 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-BPCE in talks with Morocco's BCP to sell African banks

* BPCE aims to sell in Cameroon, Madagascar, Tunisia, Congo

* Move is part of transformation plan under new CEO

* BPCE keeps minority stakes in BCP and in a Mali bank (Adds details)

By Inti Landauro and Matthieu Protard

PARIS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - France’s cooperative lender BPCE said on Tuesday it had opened talks with Moroccan bank BCP to sell its African banks as part of a reorganisation under its new chief executive.

BPCE intends to sell its controlling stakes in Cameroon, Madagascar, Congo and Tunisia to Casablanca-listed Banque Centrale Populaire, the French bank said in a statement.

Under the deal, BPCE will sell almost all its assets in the region. The bank will only keep a 4.5 percent stake in BCP and about 20 percent stake in a bank in Mali.

BPCE’s new CEO Laurent Mignon, who took over in June, is rejigging the scope of the bank’s activities to focus on retail banking, while parking investment banking, insurance, asset management and payment services in its unit Natixis.

The bank said the move was part of BPCE group’s strategy.

BPCE did not disclose the African banks’ valuation, but said it has about 400,000 customers in Cameroon and fewer than 100,000 in Congo and Tunisia and fewer than 50,000 in Madagascar.

In late June, BPCE decided to close its mortgage business Credit Foncier and fold the business into the group’s other divisions.

Two weeks ago the bank acquired a series of specialised businesses related to the retail activity from the group’s investment bank Natixis for 2.7 billion euros.

Mignon has said Natixis will use part of the proceeds to pay a special dividend to its shareholders, which include BPCE, and to make acquisitions in asset management or investment banking.

Earlier this year, BPCE sold its bank in Mauritius, Banque des Mascareignes, to Morocco’s BCP. (Reporting by Inti Landauro; editing by Michel Rose, Dominique Vidalon and Jane Merriman)

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