France’s BPCE Said in Advanced Talks on Natixis Buyout

French financial group BPCE SA is in advanced discussions about a potential offer to buy out minority shareholders of its listed investment banking unit Natixis SA, people with knowledge of the matter said.

BPCE is considering making a formal offer as soon as this week for the roughly 30% stake it doesn’t already own in the Paris-based firm, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Trading was suspended in Natixis on Tuesday morning pending a statement.

The shares have risen 33% since the start of the year, giving Natixis a market value of about 11.7 billion euros ($14.1 billion). The bank is scheduled to report its annual results on Thursday. Minority shareholders own stock worth about 3.5 billion euros based on Monday’s closing price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deliberations are ongoing, and the plans could still be delayed or fall apart, the people said. Representatives for BPCE and Natixis didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Natixis is seeking to put a lid on a couple of difficult years that saw trading unit losses and negative publicity surrounding its stake in H2O Asset Management. The fund’s ties with German financier Lars Windhorst triggered unprecedented outflows, leading to its eventual sale.

The missteps culminated in the departure of Natixis Chief Executive Officer Francois Riahi, who left in August after differences over strategy. The appointment of Nicolas Namias, a former BPCE executive, signaled that Natixis’s parent company might be seeking greater control.

The Financial Times reported in July that BPCE had explored buying out minority shareholders of Natixis, citing unidentified people. BPCE said at the time it has no plans for an offer, while saying it’s always assessing strategic options. Last week, the Betaville website cited speculation that BPCE had brought on advisers for a potential deal, contributing to a rally in the past few days.

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