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Credit Agricole to build its own Saudi Bank after stake sale

[PARIS] Credit Agricole plans to build its own corporate and investment bank in Saudi Arabia after selling the final portion of its stake in Banque Saudi Fransi.

The French lender sold its remaining 4 per cent holding for 1.45 billion riyal (S$530.9 million) to two Saudi government-related institutional investors, Credit Agricole said in a statement on Monday, without identifying the entities. The shares were sold at 30 riyals each and will help shore up Credit Agricole's capital.

The disposal ends Credit Agricole's decades-long investment in one of the kingdom's largest corporate banks. The French firm is plotting its own path in a region awash with mega-bond deals as well as stake sales by state-owned entities.

Credit Agricole started the process to obtain a licence to operate on Saudi's capital markets and plans to further develop its presence and activities in the country, the unit's chief executive officer, Jacques Ripoll, said in the statement.

Credit Agricole has been gradually selling off its stake in Saudi Fransi over the past three years. It sold about 16 per cent in 2017, about half of the total shares it held in the Saudi lender at the time, to billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. That was followed by a series of smaller deals with a consortium led by New York-based Ripplewood Holdings.

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