Credit Agricole Said to Plan Buying Up to 10% of Creval

(Bloomberg) -- Credit Agricole SA is considering the purchase of as much as 10 percent of Italian lender Credito Valtellinese SpA within six months, as it seeks to increase investments in the euro region’s third-largest economy, according to people familiar with the matter.

The French bank may buy a 5 percent stake as soon as today and then plans to double its holding, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter isn’t public. Among its strategic options, Credit Agricole is also considering a full acquisition of the Italian bank, the people said.

Representatives for the two banks declined to comment.

Credit Agricole has extensive business in Italy, including retail, corporate and investment banking. The lender has expanded in the country with acquisitions in asset management and retail banking. The agreement with Credito Valtellinese would include a 10-year partnership in the life insurance segment and may be extended to the consumer credit business, according to the people.

Credito Valtellinese, known as Creval, rose as much as 12 percent in Milan trading after Bloomberg reported the plan. The stock was temporarily halted as of 10:39 a.m., with a market value of 705 million euros ($824 million). Credit Agricole rose 1 percent in Paris.

Italian daily MF reported earlier that Credit Agricole may buy a 5 percent stake as part of a wider partnership deal valued at about 70 million euros.

Creval raised 700 million euros of fresh capital earlier this year, attracting investors including Steadfast Capital Management LP, which has a 7.1 percent stake, and Davide Serra’s Algebris Investments with a holding of about 5 percent.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.