Belgium to sell part of BNP Paribas stake for more than $2 billion


PARIS (Reuters) -Shares in French bank BNP Paribas fell on Wednesday, after the Belgian state participation agency SFPI had said it was preparing the sale of a third of its 7.8% equity stake in the euro-zone’s biggest bank.

The Belgian state participation agency on Tuesday said it will dispose of around 2.7% in the French bank, reducing Belgium’s stake in the French lender to about 5.1%.

BNP Paribas shares were down 3% in early session trading on Wednesday.

Belgium became a shareholder of France’s BNP Paribas in 2008, following the bailout of the country’s financial group Fortis, which was taken over by the French lender as part of a state-backed rescue.

As of Tuesday, the Belgian state was BNP Paribas’ number one investor, ahead of asset managers Amundi and BlackRock, with 7% and 6% of the group’s shares respectively, Refinitiv data showed.


Bookrunners for the deal told investors shortly before the deadline to submit stock orders that the deal was likely to price 64.96 euros per share, according to messages seen by Reuters, implying a 1.8% discount to BNP Paribas’ closing price.

Based on the bank’s market capitalisation, the value of the deal would be over $2 billion.

Belgium bought Fortis in 2008 for 9.4 billion euros ($9.95 billion) and sold 75% to BNP Paribas in exchange for shares.

Fortis ran into trouble after paying a top-of-the-market 24 billion euros to buy the Dutch operations of ABN AMRO just before the credit crunch and the global financial crisis.

Lazard is advising Belgium on the move, while BNP Paribas Fortis, BofA Securities and Goldman Sachs International are acting as joint bookrunners, SFPI said.

BNP Paribas declined to comment.

($1 = 0.9445 euros)

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout, Tassilo Hummel, Mathieu Rosemain, Pablo Cerqueiro Mayo;Additional reporting by Bart Meijer;Editing by Toby Chopra, Ed Osmond and Barbara Lewis)