What’s behind SocGen and AllianceBernstein’s new equities partnership?
Societe Generale and AllianceBernstein may look like an equities odd couple. Leveraging Societe Generale’s derivatives franchise is key to the new joint venture, as is maintaining AllianceBernstein’s reputation for independence.
Societe Generale’s announcement of a partnership with AllianceBernstein in November is a clear sign that the bank wants to grow, rather than retreat, in equities. It also comes at a critical time for the French bank, as it transitions to a new chief executive for the first time in 15 years.
The past year had already been an eventful one for SocGen. A €4.9 billion takeover of LeasePlan in January, and the acquisition of ING France, gave way to a fire sale of its Russian bank following the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Shortly afterwards came the surprise news that chief executive Frédéric Oudéa was leaving. In October, the board chose Slawomir Krupa to replace him.
Those involved in the new joint venture – which combines both firms’ global cash equities and research resources – underline that the decisive factor was the relationship between Krupa and Seth Bernstein, AllianceBernstein’s New York-based president and chief executive.
New York was Krupa’s base during his time as head of SocGen in the Americas. After he became the bank’s head of corporate investment banking in 2021, he still spent a lot of his time in the city, which led to more meetings and an eventual mutual recognition that a deal made sense.