ECONOMY

No decision on Emporiki just yet

Credit Agricole SA, France?s third-largest bank by market value, posted a 67 percent decline in second-quarter profit on losses in Greece and a write-down of its stake in Intesa SanPaolo SpA on Tuesday.

Net income fell to 111 million euros from 339 million euros a year earlier, the bank said in a statement. The company booked 370 million euros of losses in Greece.

Credit Agricole is shutting its riskiest investment banking activities and weighing offers from Greece?s three largest lenders for its Emporiki unit in the country, which is stuck in a five-year recession.

The bank said it?s still studying the bids.

?Greece and Italy keep poisoning their results,? said Gregory Moore, who helps manage 200 million euros at Montsegur Finance in Paris, including shares in Credit Agricole.

?It?s disappointing as we didn?t get more significant details? about the sale of Emporiki, he said.

Credit Agricole has taken no decision on entering into more advanced talks related to any of the offers for Emporiki, it said in the statement.

Discussions are continuing with the Bank of Greece, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund and the European Commission ?on the terms and conditions to which the transaction would be subject,? the bank said.

?We need to carry out our goals,? Credit Agricole CEO Jean-Paul Chifflet (photo) told journalists by phone.

Credit Agricole aims to exit Emporiki and Greece, and any remaining stake in the Greek unit won?t exceed 10 percent, he said. Credit Agricole ?hopes? to close the Emporiki sale by December 31, the CEO said at a press conference.

National Bank of Greece and Eurobank this month submitted bids for Emporiki, joining Alpha Bank, Greece?s No 3 lender, in their pursuit of Credit Agricole?s unprofitable Athens-based unit. Emporiki?s loan book makes Credit Agricole the foreign bank with the most to lose should Greece exit the euro.

Entering exclusive negotiations ?is a matter of weeks,? and sealing an agreement will also require weeks, Chief Financial Officer Bernard Delpit told reporters.

Asked whether Credit Agricole may consider keeping a funding exposure to some of Emporiki?s least-performing loans, Delpit said that ?if we keep assets in Greece, for sure it wouldn?t be the difficult assets.? [Bloomberg]