Credit Agricole Urged to Raise Creval Bid by Tycoon Dumont

French tycoon Denis Dumont, Credito Valtellinese SpA’s second-biggest investor, rejected Credit Agricole SA offer price for the Italian lender, joining a growing number of shareholders who are demanding a higher bid.

Dumont’s investment firm DGFD, which owns 6.15% of Creval, joins Melqart Asset Management, Alta Global, Hosking Partners and Petrus Advisers in publicly opposing Credit Agricole’s offer as inadequate. The five investors combined control almost a third of the shares. Creval’s board has also said the offer price is too low.

While DGFD is open to a takeover, the “price offered is not adequate to the current and prospective value of Creval,” it said in an email. If the price isn’t improved and the bid fails, Dumont said it’s ready to take action to support Creval’s future as an independent lender.

Credit Agricole in November offered to buy Creval for about 737 million euros ($876 million), or 10.50 euros a share, to build on its already extensive business in Italy and strengthen its position in the wealthy north. Since then, executives at the French bank have repeatedly said their offer is fair and that they don’t intend to increase it, even as Creval shares gained past the bid value and more shareholders demanded a higher price.

Shares reversed earlier losses and rose 0.66% to 12.29 euros after Bloomberg reported Dumont’s comments.

Credit Agricole Urged to Raise Creval Bid by Tycoon Dumont

Ahead of the tender, Credit Agricole increased its stake to about 17% and obtained authorization to raise it to up to 20%. The bank has said it needs at least 50% plus 1 share for the bid to be successful. Investors have until April 21 to tender their shares.

Credit Agricole’s businesses in Italy include retail, corporate and investment banking operations. It has expanded with acquisitions in asset management and retail banking. A successful bid for Creval would double its market share in Lombardy, and consolidate its role as the sixth-biggest retail bank in Italy, with 3 million clients.

Dumont first became a shareholder of the the Italian lender in 2017 and a year later subscribed to a capital increase for a 5% stake. A supporter of Creval’s management, Dumont has criticized the handling of the takeover approach through Credit Agricole’s Italian unit. Credit Agricole Italy has lashed out at Creval on several occasions, including for rejecting the bid as too low, which it said was based on “considerably wide” and “potentially misleading” valuations.

If the offer fails, Creval can also grow on stand-alone basis, said DGFD.

“Creval is among the most solid lenders in Europe, with excellent credit quality and a strongly improved and more profitable core business,” the firm said.

Other Highlights from Dumont’s note

  • Dumont’s DGFD “firmly rejects” the price proposed, which “is not adequate to the current and prospective value of Creval.”
  • The firm “invites the bidder to review the offer price in line with the value of the bank,” highlighting that Credit Agricole would benefit from monetization of deferred tax assets, Creval’s excess capital and of an improved economic scenario compared with when the offer was made.
  • If price isn’t increased and offer will fail Dumont is ready to seize new growth opportunities taking “all the most appropriate actions aimed at giving stability to shareholders and supporting the independence of Creval.”

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