Credit Agricole readying plans to shape up Emporiki

France’s Credit Agricole (CASA) is planning to shed the ailing subsidiaries of Emporiki Bank, the Greek lender over which it recently acquired control, with a view to expediting its restructuring and sending a clear signal to the market. The plans center on listed insurer Phoenix and the Phosphate Fertilizer Company (VFL). According to sources, CASA, which is about to announce Emporiki’s new management team, will make a public offer for 100 percent of Phoenix, which it will then sell. The insurance requirements of the bank’s existing clients will be underwritten by the French group’s insurance arms. Emporiki’s outgoing management, under Giorgos Provopoulos who formally resigned last week, had almost completed negotiations for Phoenix’s sale but these were stalled by CASA’s public offer for Emporiki in June. It had also taken a 4.2-million-euro write-off for VFL in the first quarter of 2006. CASA has already announced additional provisions of 400 million euros for the Emporiki group, of which 350 million are for the parent bank itself and 50 million for Phoenix. CASA is reported to be putting the final touches to the new management team of Emporiki Bank. The sources say that the French have picked two experienced Greek bankers for the posts of non-executive president and managing director and only legal details remain before the announcement of those postings. Jean Frederic de Leusse, who is now provisional president, and Christian Jacques, deputy general manager and CASA’s representative in Greece for the last five years, will assume the posts of vice president and deputy managing director respectively, according to the same sources.

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