July 30, 2018 / 4:34 PM / 5 months ago

SocGen to sell private bank unit in Belgium to ABN AMRO

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Societe Generale is pictured outside the headquarters of the French bank at the financial and business district of La Defense in Puteaux, outside Paris, France, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) said on Monday it had agreed to sell its private banking unit in Belgium to Dutch bank ABN AMRO (ABNd.AS) as part of its strategy to dispose of operations that lack critical size and potential for synergies within the group.

The French bank’s private banking unit intends to focus instead on France, the U.K., Luxembourg, Switzerland and Monaco and will seek new partnerships with international banking networks.

The operation comes as European banks are restructuring their assets as they seek to strengthen on markets where they see potential growth, while withdrawing from markets deemed too small to compete.

Societe Generale’s Chief Executive Frederic Oudea earlier this month said his bank seeks potential incremental acquisitions while at the same time it seeks to sell assets with less potential.

Earlier this month, the French bank took over the market activities of Frankfurt-based Commerzbank.

ABN AMRO is taking advantage of Societe Generale’s withdrawal from Belgium to double its size in the country. With the acquisition, ABN AMRO will have 12 billion euros ($14.06 billion) under management, the Dutch bank said in a statement.

“This acquisition is an important milestone in our ambitious growth journey in Belgium,” said Solange Rouschop, the chief executive of ABN AMRO Private Banking in Belgium.

Societe Generale’s private banking unit has about 6 billion euros under management in Belgium and employs more than 200 people, a spokeswoman at ABN AMRO said Monday.

The two banks didn’t disclose the amount of the transaction. ($1 = 0.8538 euros)

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Geert De Clercq

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