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BPCE Supervisory Board Voices Confidence in Perol After Charges

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Groupe BPCE directors unanimously said they support Executive Chairman Francois Perol, the former aide to Nicolas Sarkozy charged in a conflict-of-interest case relating to his appointment to lead the French bank.

The 50-year-old executive chairman informed the board of the judge’s decision to charge him over his 2009 appointment to head Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne, two customer-owned lenders that then merged to form France’s second-biggest bank by branches, BPCE said in a statement today.

Perol “has no intention of making a comment” on the claims, he said in an interview today. Roger Le Loire, the judge leading the investigation, questioned Perol yesterday, according to an official at the Paris prosecutor’s office.

Perol was then-French President Sarkozy’s deputy chief of staff and top economic adviser from 2007 to 2009. During that time, the government channeled funds into the banking system to help weather the global financial crisis. The government encouraged the lenders’ merger to help stem losses at Natixis SA, their investment-banking unit.

Natixis has been profitable every quarter since mid-2009 and Paris-based BPCE has reimbursed the state for the loan. BPCE has set a target of 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in annual net income and revenue above 23 billion euros in 2017.

Prior to advising Sarkozy, Perol was a managing partner at Rothschild & Cie. in Paris, where he advised on the 2006 creation of Natixis.

Perol told a parliamentary hearing in 2009 that he obeyed rules blocking government officials from taking private-sector jobs in areas they oversaw. The investigation was re-opened after a labor union challenged the prosecutor’s decision to drop a preliminary investigation for lack of evidence.

Perol is also non-executive chairman of Natixis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fabio Benedetti-Valentini in Paris at fabiobv@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net; Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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