Credit Agricole Fights Back

The FT reports that, just when BNP Paribas thought that the jig was almost up, Credit Agricole has hit back in the fight between both banks for control of Credit Lyonnais and has now purchased more shares, making Agricole the largest shareholder in Lyonnais.

It was only on Monday that BNP confirmed that it had sought the permission of French banking regulators to take its stake in Credit Lyonnais to 20% and was calling for talks between the two banks to discuss a partnership.

But Credit Agricole has now hit back and taken its own holding in Lyonnais up to 17.4%, making it the largest shareholder in the bank and taking poll position in the battle. Both banks would like to persuade Lyonnais to come to the alter with them willingly, but both are now thought to be prepared to engage in a hostile bid if the blushing would-be bride resists their allure.

The fight is now on for Credit Lyonnais's six million customers and 1,800 branches and the battle is likely to be headline news for a few weeks yet.

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