BNP Paribas strengthens in Belgium

Posted on Dec. 2020 at 13:15

In the midst of the crisis, BNP Paribas continues to shop. The leading bank in the euro zone will strengthen its presence in Belgium with the purchase of all the shares of bpost bank, the equivalent of La Banque Postale in Brussels. Until now, the group has held 50% of the capital of this bancassurer, the postal operator bpost owning the rest.

The two partners announced the signing on Wednesday eveninga non-binding letter of intent which provides for the sale of the shares held by bpost to BNP Paribas Fortis. The amount of the transaction is expected to be between 100 and 120 million euros.

The operation nevertheless remains subject to the approval of the Belgian financial authorities and the Belgian competition police. Binding agreements could be signed by March, with finalization scheduled for the end of 2021.

The tenth player in the country

This transaction closes a 25-year-old partnership between the Belgian postal operator and the former “Générale de Banque”, whose merger with other establishments gave birth to Fortis in 1999. BNP Paribas had acquired the stake in bpost bank in 2009, during the acquisition of Fortis.

Bpost bank, whose customer profile resembles that of La Banque Postale in France, is the tenth player in the sector in Belgium, with around 3% market share. At the end of 2019, the bancassurer had around 719,000 current accounts and 876,000 savings accounts. The income earned by Belgian Post from the sale of banking and financial products last year amounted to around 165 million euros, for a net profit of 21 million.

Until now, Bpost and BNP Paribas were bound by a partnership agreement, renewed on a regular basis, and whose expiry date was until the end of 2021. The time was therefore ripe for a strategic reflection on the future of this cooperation, as the coronavirus crisis has further upset a financial sector already under pressure.

The current context of the banking sector, characterized by low margins, low interest rates and strict capital requirements in order to be able to maintain a small independent bank in operation, is the basis of the envisaged agreement. », Explained bpost in a press release.

A network of 660 post offices

By taking over all the parts of the joint venture, BNP Paribas Fortis, number one in the sector in Belgium, will be able to strengthen its presence in the country and fully benefit from the vast distribution network of the Belgian postal operator, which has 660 offices. From post.

Despite the downward trend in branches, in Belgium as elsewhere (BNP Paribas Fortis has a 463 account), the density of the network offered by bpost remains an advantage for the banking group which already distributed its own insurance and savings products ( AG Insurance) within the framework of its agreement with bpost bank. ” The offer of financial services in a network of offices close to the client is fully in line with the proximity strategy of the two partners “, Indicated BNP Paribas Fortis and bpost. The bpost bank brand should continue.

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