CrÃ©dit Agricole (Belgium) acquires Centea from the KBC group
Regulated information* -Â 4Â March 2011 (Before trading hours)
Â KBC Group has reached an agreement with CrÃ©dit Agricole (Belgium) for the sale
of its subsidiary Centea (Belgium) for a total consideration of 527 million
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The addition of Centea to the CrÃ©dit Agricole Group is a major step
in the growth and diversification policy that the bank has been pursuing for
many years. CrÃ©dit Agricole and Centea will combine forces to become a new and
important player in the Belgian banking world, maintaining CrÃ©dit Agricole's co-
operative values and boasting one of the biggest networks of tied agents that
caters for more than one million customers.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Today's announcement fits in with the strategic refocus plan that
KBC announced at the end of 2009. The divestment of Centea is a significant step
in implementing this plan and will not adversely affect the strength of KBC's
business model in its core markets. Indeed, the company will continue to provide
banking and insurance services under the KBC brand name in Flanders and Brussels
through its network of 722 bank branches, 19 private banking branches, 13
corporate branches and 569 insurance agencies. It will continue to do the same
under the CBC name in Brussels and Wallonia through 88 bank branches, 13
corporate branches, 7 private banking branches and 75 insurance agencies.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This deal will free up around 0.4 billion euros of capital for KBC,
primarily by reducing risk-weighted assets by 4.2 billion euros, which will
ultimately boost KBC's tier-1 ratio by around 0.4% (impact calculated on 31
December 2010). The gain on this deal is negligible.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Centea is one of the strongest savings banks in Belgium and a
renowned brand. The company caters for the banking and insurance needs of more
than 615 000 private customers, the self-employed and small companies through an
extensive network of 657 points of sale operated by 608 tied bank agents across
Belgium. Its comprehensive range of products includes deposits, investments and
loans, as well as life and non-life insurance provided in close co-operation
with Fidea (the complementary network of insurance brokers owned by KBC).
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â CrÃ©dit Agricole, Centea and Fidea have agreed that, in an initial
phase, Fidea will continue to offer its life and non-life insurance products
through the Centea agents, as well as through CrÃ©dit Agricole's network. This
co-operation model will, therefore, open up prospects and growth opportunities
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Together with Centea's management team, CrÃ©dit Agricole will review
the joint operation going forward.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In order to guarantee continuity of service, KBC will continue
providing ICT-related support to Centea during the transition phase.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Finalisation of the deal depends on the customary approval of the
regulator(s) and is likely to occur in the second quarter of 2011.
Â Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In this deal, CrÃ©dit Agricole was advised by Econopolis, Deloitte,
CMS DeBacker and A.T. Kearney, while KBC was advised by KBC Securities, Morgan
Stanley, Eubelius and Linklaters.
Jan Vanhevel, KBC Group CEO: 'Today's deal is another major step in the
implementation of our updated strategy. This divestment will free up a
considerable amount of capital and help us further strengthen the KBC group.
With a lower risk profile, we will continue to focus on our core activity as a
bancassurer in our core markets of Belgium and Central and Eastern Europe. In
Belgium, we will operate as before through our comprehensive network of KBC and
CBC bank branches and insurance agencies. Nevertheless, this divestment is one
of the difficult choices we have had to make to meet the demands of the European
Johan Thijs, CEO of KBC's Belgium Business Unit and Chairman of Centea's Board
of Directors: 'Centea is one of the strongest savings banks in Belgium, with a
long and rich history, and committed staff and agents who provide a top-quality
service to their customers. Personally speaking, therefore, it is with a heavy
heart that we have to bid farewell to our Centea colleagues, with whom we have
had a successful working relationship for many years. The new owner, CrÃ©dit
Agricole, affords new opportunities for Centea's staff and agents, while also
opening up new prospects to the colleagues and brokers of Fidea. We believe that
CrÃ©dit Agricole will ensure the requisite continuity and guarantee the future of
Centea's staff and agents.'
Luc Versele, CrÃ©dit Agricole CEO: 'This deal is unique in CrÃ©dit Agricole's
history. Not only does it double our total assets and market share, but we will
also acquire 600 000 new customers in one fell swoop. As it is a sizeable
transaction, we have been preparing for it thoroughly since the end of 2009. I
am, therefore, delighted that this long and thorough preparation period has
ended in a promising agreement. This deal would not have been possible without
the express support of our shareholders. I am extremely pleased to welcome
Centea into the CrÃ©dit Agricole Group. Centea's corporate culture, values and
business model closely match those of our co-operative bank, CrÃ©dit Agricole.
Centea is a profitable, top-quality bank and, just like CrÃ©dit Agricole, has a
network of tied agents. We are, therefore, convinced that this agreement is
appropriate for both the CrÃ©dit Agricole Group and Centea, and that both banks
combined will be able to provide an even better service and more extensive range
of products to more than one million customers.'
Alain DiÃ©val, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CrÃ©dit Agricole: 'The
Belgian co-operative savings banks, the French shareholders, the regional
savings banks "CrÃ©dit Agricole Nord de France" and "CrÃ©dit Agricole du Nord
Est", and CrÃ©dit Agricole SA, have all been studying the file ever since it was
announced that Centea would be sold. They have come to the conclusion that this
represents a fine opportunity for the CrÃ©dit Agricole Group to establish a new,
stronger co-operative banking group that is active in all sectors of the Belgian
economy. We were, therefore, immediately prepared to make the necessary funds
available to purchase Centea and to make this unique project a long-term
Paul D'Haeyer, Centea CEO: 'We consider this acquisition to be a positive and
reassuring development for our customers, employees and agents. The period of
uncertainty is now over. We know our new shareholder. CrÃ©dit Agricole fully
supports our customer-oriented model and strategy and has a long-term outlook.
We look forward to working closing with them and developing the bank further. We
are convinced that our customers, staff and agents will benefit considerably
from the strong commitment and support from the new owner.'
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Source: KBC Groep via Thomson Reuters ONE