CNP Assurances could go out of stock

Posted on Oct. 27, 2021, 7:41 p.m.

A change of era in sight for CNP Assurances? On Wednesday, the price of the insurer listed in Paris was suspended. According to our information, La Banque Postale is preparing a withdrawal from the rating of this heavyweight in French life insurance with which it married last year to form a new tricolor bancassurer.

Contacted by “Les Echos”, CNP Assurances declined to comment. “The governance bodies of the shareholders of CNP Assurances are in the process of conducting discussions in order to take decisions on the composition of the shareholder structure”, declared a spokesperson for La Banque Postale.

A communication from the group is expected this Thursday morning. CNP Assurances was worth nearly 11 billion euros on the stock market on Wednesday and its price was frozen at 16 euros after having appreciated by more than 16% during the last month. The group is now nearly 63% owned by La Banque Postale and 16% by the BPCE group (behind the Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne brands). The remainder of the capital, ie 21.1%, is floating.

Locomotive of results

An exit from BPCE would have every chance of triggering a takeover bid for the rest of CNP’s capital. After the delisting of Natixis (itself a BPCE subsidiary) this year, this was the second movement of this type in French finance in a few months.

The hypothesis of an exit from the stock market of CNP had already come on the table in 2019 during the preparation of the marriage of the insurer with the Banque Postale. This long-term project, internally called Mandarine, was designed to make bancassurance a driving force for La Banque Postale and its parent company La Poste, the latter suffering from the continuous drop in mail.

Diversification and internationalization

Before this marriage, CNP Assurances was already in the fold of the public sphere, but its first shareholder was Caisse des Dépôts. The change in control of the insurer could have led to a takeover bid on all of its capital. However, to avoid the cost of such an operation, the sponsors of the newborn bancassurer had obtained an exemption from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers.

Since then, the Banque Postale has changed pilots. Now headed by Philippe Heim, former Deputy CEO of Societe Generale, the group has made development in insurance in France and internationally one of the pillars of its strategic plan presented last March. The group faced with the difficulties of retail banking in France seeks to diversify and internationalize.

At the current rate, a buyout of minority interests should cost La Banque Postale more than 2 billion euros.

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