Credit Agricole Sizing Up Opportunity for Growth in Asia

  • Would consider expanding presence, Deputy CEO Musca says
  • Asia accounted for less than 5% of bank’s 2016 revenue

Credit Agricole Sees Huge Asia Growth Potential

Credit Agricole SA, France’s second-largest bank, is considering expanding its presence in Asia to tap the region’s “huge potential” for growth, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Xavier Musca said.

The lender has opened a representative office in Indonesia and is increasing its asset-management footprint through the purchase of Pioneer Investments by Amundi SA, the investment firm controlled by Credit Agricole, Musca said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Singapore.

There is “genuine interest” in Asia for opportunities that European banks can offer, said Musca, who is also chairman of Amundi. The region is a “very important saving pool” for the bank, he said.

The lender, which is run by CEO Philippe Brassac, mostly refocused its retail and investment-banking operations on core European markets following the financial crisis. Asia accounted for less than 5 percent of its 2016 revenue, while more than 80 percent came from France and other European countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company’s private bank is already making moves to expand in Asia, with its purchase of Credit Industriel et Commercial’s private-banking operations in Hong Kong and Singapore. CA Indosuez is planning to hire 15 to 20 bankers annually in Asia over the next few years.

‘Huge Concentration’

At Amundi, “obviously today the priority is to integrate Pioneer,” Musca said. The 3.5 billion-euro ($4.2 billion) acquisition was completed in July.

Still, “there is a huge concentration movement in asset management,” he said. “We’re participating in it and we could be in the future interested by any opportunity in Asia.”

Credit Agricole’s shares have gained about 29 percent this year, outpacing the 7.4 percent increase of the 45-member STOXX Europe 600 Banks index. The bank was down 0.6 percent as of 9:51 a.m. in Paris trading.

Credit Agricole this week agreed to sell about half of its stake in Banque Saudi Fransi for about $1.5 billion to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding. The Saudi disposal will boost Credit Agricole’s key capital metrics while additional profits from the Pioneer deal will help make up for the earnings impact of the Saudi sale, analysts have said.

— With assistance by Betty Liu, and Haidi Lun

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