From one crisis to another. Fourteen years after the facts, and in the midst of a health crisis, the Natixis bank will appear on Monday before the criminal court where it will be judged on the communication in 2007 of its exposure to the “subprime” crisis.
The BPCE group subsidiary is suspected of having disseminated false or misleading information at the time. This is the first time that a French bank will be tried for facts related to the 2008 financial crisis. Managers and individuals are not concerned.
The trial, which takes place at the Paris court, is scheduled to last until April 8, and will take place in six hearings. Natixis risks a fine of up to 7.5 million euros.
This legal episode falls in the midst of the Natixis delisting operation. The bank’s board of directors approved about ten days ago the takeover offer by BPCE, at 4 euros per share, of the 29% of the capital that it does not hold, and which should be successful, in the event of of success, at an exit from the Stock Exchange.
A press release dated… November 2007
The case in question concerns the financial communication of the bank between 2006, the year of its initial public offering, and 2009. That year, a complaint was filed by the Association for the Defense of Minority Shareholders (Adam), for the account of hundreds of individual investors, for ” dissemination of misleading information ‘and’ presentation of inaccurate accounts “.
In the meantime, the bank had suffered losses of several billion euros, and saw its share price collapse.
Following this complaint, the courts opened an investigation on the basis of two press releases published in July 2007 and November 2007. Natixis was indicted ten years later, in 2017, on the basis of these two documents.
Two years later, in 2019, an investigating judge referred the bank to the criminal court on the basis of only one of these press releases (that of November), in which she allegedly underestimated the risks associated with its exposure to the “subprime” crisis.
Difficult to anticipate
Since the start of the affair, the group has pleaded its innocence, recalling that the crisis and its consequences were impossible to anticipate. When announcing his dismissal in 2019, Natixis felt that it “ provided the public, in all sincerity, with the information it had on its exposures, as and when their underlying risks were identified “. The Autorité des Marchés Financiers had nothing to complain about at the time.
What is certain is that the bank today has little to do with that of 2007. The managers are no longer in post, neither at Natixis, nor at BPCE. The bank itself has undergone a lot of restructuring. The most recent, initiated last year after a loss of first half, should reduce its risk profile.
The change should continue once Natixis has completely returned to the fold of the mutualist group BPCE, if the takeover offer is successful.