Credit Agricole raises Creval offer in bid to secure Italian expansion

MILAN (Reuters) -Credit Agricole Italia (CAI) has raised its bid for Italy’s Creval by 140 million euros ($167.6 million) in an effort to secure backing for plans to expand in Italy’s consolidating banking sector.

FILE PHOTO: A branch of Credit Agricole bank is seen in Warsaw, Poland, July 3, 2018. REUTERS/Marcin Goclowski/File Photo

The Italian arm of French bank Credit Agricole announced in November that it would offer 737 million euros, or 10.50 euros per share, for Italy’s third-tier lender.

However a growing number of Creval shareholders had opposed the bid, which runs to April 21, asking for a better price.

CAI said late on Wednesday it is now ready to pay 12.20 euros per Creval share and would further lift the price to 12.50 euros if shares corresponding to more than 90% of the bank’s capital were tendered, valuing the lender at 877 million euros.

The higher price offered a 44.5% premium to Creval’s closing price on the day before the bid was announced last year.

“Ours is an all-cash offer with a premium which has no precedent in buyout bids in Italy… we want to create value for all stakeholders,” CAI head Giampiero Maioli said in a statement.

“This is our final offer and, please remember, the only one that exists.”

Shares in Creval closed down 0.7% at 12.25 euros.

Creval last month acknowledged the proposal was a good strategic move but cited a fair price of between 12.95 and 22.7 euros, based on analysis by advisers Bank of America and Mediobanca

With its roots in Lombardy’s Valtellina area, Creval would double CAI’s market share in Italy’s wealthiest region. Italy is Credit Agricole’s largest market after France.

Credit Agricole first invested in Creval in 2018, when the two lenders struck an insurance partnership. Its stake is set to reach around 18%, regardless of the bid outcome, following agreements with some of Creval’s investors ahead of the tender.

Credit Agricole is targeting 66.67% acceptance to ensure it controls extraordinary shareholder resolutions, so as to be able to absorb Creval and maximise projected savings.

However, it reserved the right to accept a take-up of 50% of Creval’s capital plus one share.

($1 = 0.8351 euros)

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