BNP Prepares $18bn Bid For Rival

The Business reports that BNP Paribas is expected to continue buying more shares in Credit Lyonnais this week as it consolidates its position and readies itself for an $18bn bid to take over its rival.

The battle for Credit Lyonnais hotted up last week as both BNP and Credit Agricole are thought to have increased their stakes in the bank. BNP now owns around 16% of Lyonnais and Agricole is thought to be the mystery buyer of 3.35% of the bank's shares on Friday, taking its own stake to over 12%.

Agricole's determination to run out the winner for the battle for Credit Lyonnais was clearly demonstrated last week when chairman Marc Bue fell on his sword after a series of blunders saw BNP acquire the French government's 10.9% stake in Lyonnais last weekend.

BNP is the new favourite in the race to acquire Credit Lyonnais, but it would be foolish to rule out Credit Agricole. The battle could get dirty and the implications for the French banking industry will be enormous. Will the loser for Lyonnais team up with Societe Generale ?

BNP's official position is currently that it will not launch a full hostile bid, but will continue 'to seek a dialogue with Credit Lyonnais on areas of co-operation'.

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