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French Strategic Fund Buys 6% of CGGVeritas; Seeks Board Seat

The French Strategic Investment Fund said it bought a 6 percent stake in CGGVeritas on the open market to strengthen the shareholder base of the world’s largest seismic surveyor of oilfields.

The FSI, 51 percent owned by Caisse des Depots et Consignations and 49 percent by the French state, plans to take a seat at CGGVeritas’s board, the fund said in a statement. CGGVeritas said it “welcomes” the entry of the FSI.

CGGVeritas is a “French leader within an oil services industry that has a strong technological content,” the FSI said. The investment follows the FSI’s purchase in September of more than 5 percent of Technip SA, Europe’s second-largest oilfield-services provider.

CGGVeritas, which conducts seismic studies and sells equipment to estimate the size of oil and gas deposits, was created in 2006 when Cie Generale de Geophysique SA bought Houston-based Veritas DGC Inc. It has 65 percent of the global market for seismic equipment and about a third of the market for services, Chief Executive Officer Robert Brunck has said.

Net income sank to $1 million in the first quarter from $71 million a year earlier after the economic slowdown last year prompted oil companies to delay investment in exploration projects. Demand for seismic surveys is picking up, Brunck said last month.

He plans to step down as CEO on July 1 while remaining chairman. He will be replaced by Jean-Georges Malcor.

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