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SocGen CEO sees no early moves towards EU cross-border bank deals
November 28, 2017 / 3:38 PM / 16 days ago

SocGen CEO sees no early moves towards EU cross-border bank deals

* Fewer European banks in 10 years time - Oudea

* But big cross-border deal unlikely in near term -Oudea

* SocGen unveils cost savings plan in strategy update

By Maya Nikolaeva

PARIS, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Cross-border bank deals in Europe are unlikely in the short term Societe Generale Chief Executive Frederic Oudea said on Tuesday, adding that the bank’s new three-year strategy would put it in a strong position for mergers when the time came.

European banks have had to spend years repairing their balance sheets following the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, but now bankers and regulators have started to talk more about banking consolidation in Europe.

“I doubt this could happen over the coming quarters,” said Oudea, speaking to journalists about cross-border banking consolidation on the sidelines of a SocGen investor day on Tuesday.

SocGen has been at the centre of speculation over merger talks with Italy’s UniCredit, while more recent takeover talk within the European banking industry has centred on Germany’s Commerzbank.

But bankers have said that the impact of new regulations and difficulties in finding cost synergies in retail banking make the prospects of a big merger over the short term less certain.

SocGen, France’s third-largest listed bank, has been trying to cut costs and late on Monday unveiled a new 1.1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) savings plan. It also set out growth targets calling for a revenue expansion exceeding 3 percent in each of the next three years.

“If we do this, if we make a success of it, we will be in a strong position to participate in the construction of a more integrated banking sector in Europe,” Oudea said.

“Let’s take a look in ten years from now ... if Europe continues to move into the right direction ... in ten years there will be fewer banks”.

“It is necessary that domestic consolidation is done ... from an industrial point of view we would have between three to six banks that concentrate the essential part of market share in each market.”

At present, banking executives were concentrating on changing their business models, Oudea said.

SoGen is relatively undervalued compared with its French rivals BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole in terms of book value.

The bank’s shares have underperformed its rivals in France, partly reflecting uncertainty over litigation costs.

SocGen’s shares were up 0.3 percent at 1514 GMT.

($1 = 0.8413 euros)

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jane Merriman

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