A Shakeup in Euro Finance?

French bank Crédit Agricole's $19.98 billion acquisition of compatriot Crédit Lyonnais will almost certainly spur further consolidation in the French banking sector--most likely by encouraging BNP Paribas to make a bid for smaller rival Société Générale, analysts say. But it could also give a timely boost to cross-border mergers in the euro zone. Most national markets in Europe are dominated by a handful of banks, which increasingly must look abroad for growth. Among those said to be interested in making acquisitions in neighboring countries are the Netherlands' ING Group, Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland, and Italy's UniCredito Italiano. Possible prey includes banks in Germany, where there has been less consolidation and institutions have been weakened by the sluggish economy.

Edited by Rose Brady

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