Crédit Agricole sells remaining stake in Banque Saudi Fransi

The 4 per cent stake was sold to two government-related institutions for 1.45bn riyals

A visitor walks towards the Credit Agricole SA headquarter offices in Montrouge, near Paris, France, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. JPMorgan Chase & Co., HSBC Holdings Plc and Credit Agricole were fined a total of 485.5 million euros ($521 million) for rigging the Euribor benchmark as European Union antitrust regulators wrapped up a five-year investigation into the scandal. Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg
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Crédit Agricole's Corporate and Investment Bank sold its remaining 4 per cent stake in Banque Saudi Fransi to two government-related institutions for 1.45bn Saudi riyals ($386.7m).

The Paris-based lender did not name the buyers of its stake but said it intends to retain a presence in the kingdom.

"Crédit Agricole CIB remains highly confident in Saudi Arabia’s economic perspectives, in the wake of Vision 2030, and plans to further develop its direct presence to extend its activities in the country. Crédit Agricole CIB has initiated a process to apply for a licence that will enable it to operate on Saudi capital markets," the lender's chief executive Jacques Ripoll, said.

Crédit Agricole has held a stake in Banque Saudi Fransi for decades but has been selling this down through a number of transactions over the past few years. Last year, it completed the sale of a 6 per cent stake to US-based Ripplewood Advisors in November, following an earlier 4.9 per cent sale to the same buyer in April. It had also previously sold a 16.2 per cent stake to Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal for $1.54bn in 2017.

Crédit Agricole said the sale would improve the group's equity ratios. It was advised on the sale by JP Morgan and law firms Abuhimed Al-Sheikh Al-Hagbani and Clifford Chance.

Banque Saudi Fransi's shares edged up 0.16 per cent to close at 32.25 riyals on Monday.