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Standard Chartered Gets Antitrust Nod to Buy Agricole Unit

Standard Chartered Plc, the London-based bank under investigation in New York for allegedly laundering Iranian funds, got approval from Turkey’s antitrust board to buy Credit Agricole SA’s Turkish unit.

Standard Chartered was allowed to buy the whole of Credit Agricole Yatirim Bankasi Turk AS from its Montrouge, France-based parent, the Ankara-based regulator said on its website today. It didn’t disclose the value of the transaction.

Credit Agricole Yatirim Bankasi, established in 1990, offers corporate and investment-banking services to clients in Turkey, according to its website. The bank increased its assets to 74.9 million liras ($42 million) at the end of 2011 from 66 million liras a year earlier. Profit rose to 8.1 million liras in 2011 from 5.7 million liras in 2010.

Standard Chartered, which has a representative office in Istanbul, and Credit Agricole applied to Turkey’s banking regulator this year to get approval for the sale. A decision by the Ankara-based regulator, the last hurdle before the takeover, may be announced this year, said a person with knowledge of the deal who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Selling Assets

Credit Agricole Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Chifflet is trimming the bank’s balance sheet and cutting costs, like French rivals BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA, amid higher capital demands from regulators and a decline in trading and underwriting commissions. Credit Agricole is shedding 1,750 jobs at its corporate and investment-banking division and closing operations in 21 countries.

Citic Securities Co., China’s largest brokerage by market value, agreed to buy Credit Agricole’s CLSA unit for $1.25 billion, the companies said July 23. The French bank has entered exclusive talks to sell its other brokerage, CA Cheuvreux, to Kepler Capital Markets SA, and received bids from Greece’s biggest lenders National Bank of Greece SA, Eurobank Ergasias SA and Alpha Bank AE for its unprofitable Emporiki Bank unit.

Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s banking superintendent, this month alleged Standard Chartered flouted U.S. banking laws by helping launder about $250 billion in Iranian funds. The bank’s CEO, Peter Sands, said he rejected Lawsky’s version of events.

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