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BANKING

Societe Generale: LeasePlan deal highlights bid to move on from legacy business

LeasePlan’s absorption by Societe Generale-owned ALD comes at the same time as rumours of a takeover by SocGen of ING France, potentially adding to digital bank Boursorama’s growth.

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Societe Generale’s €4.9 billion takeover of LeasePlan, announced on Thursday, is a big step in chief executive Frédéric Oudéa’s attempts to retell the bank’s story to investors; a tale previously characterized by investment-banking accidents – and then cuts.

The LeasePlan news came just as SocGen is reportedly bidding to buy parts of Dutch bank ING’s French digital bank, with a view to merge it with its own fast-growing digital bank, Boursorama.

According to Oudéa, the LeasePlan deal will make car leasing “a third pillar” for SocGen, alongside retail banking and insurance, and corporate and investment banking. Like his plans for Boursorama, car leasing is therefore part of a wider strategy of highlighting SocGen’s potential for transformation: it shows the group can successfully deploy capital generated by legacy businesses into faster-growing and more profitable ones.

Leaving legacy behind

This is similar to the approach in other businesses – and at other firms – as incumbent banks seek new ways to boost share prices and move away from struggling legacy businesses, especially in retail.

Barclays and above all Santander, for example, are shining more of a light on their payments businesses and investing more in them to get hoped-for benefits to their stock valuations and, in time, in revenues and profit.

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