Crédit Agricole: Testing the limits of the partnership model
The past year has brought new challenges for Crédit Agricole’s partnerships in products and distribution. But the wave of bank M&A sweeping Europe is also an opportunity – as its Creval deal shows.
Over the last five years Crédit Agricole has appeared well suited to a time when synergies between European banks were sorely needed but almost impossible to realize through mergers – especially cross border.
It has used the economies of scale it enjoys from owning France’s biggest retail network as the basis for buying the smaller product factories of weaker rivals, while retaining their distribution.
“We are a universal bank, and each of the business lines that we have decided to keep are open to cooperation,” Philippe Brassac, chief executive of Crédit Agricole SA (Casa), told Euromoney in June. “Partnerships are an attractive alternative to bank mergers. They’re easier, less risky and you protect your brand.”
After the pandemic, this partnership model appears particularly relevant, as many European banks – especially mid-tier lenders in southern Europe – are in even greater need of the capital trapped in their increasingly uncompetitive product factories.