Breakup Rumors Swirl Around SocGen

Fraud-plagued French bank may be too big for single bidder
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2008 12:11 PM CST
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde gestures while speaking during a working session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Saturday Jan. 26, 2008.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Wounded Société Générale is looking more and more like a takeover target, prompting France's prime minister to jump into the fray today and say the government would defend the country's second-largest bank against hostile raids, the Wall Street Journal reports. With a $7.1 billion loss from fraudulent trades shaking confidence in the bank and its stock price plummeting, some analysts are predicting a breakup, Reuters reports.

Given the bank's size and mix of businesses, it may be too unwieldy a target for any single bidder, especially in the current difficult financing environment, analysts said. Some are touting the model of Dutch ABN AMRO, which agreed last year to be broken up, with Bank of America taking its US operations and three other banks acquiring remaining units. But France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, and Credit Agricole are also circling.