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Can Daniel Bouton’s unique vision drive SG forward?

Daniel Bouton, chairman of Société Générale, plays the game by his own rules. He doesn’t believe that to be a successful investment bank you have to be a global player with a franchise in almost every market. He won’t be rushed into acquisitions. And he thinks that French banks have an exciting story to tell. Having put potential high-growth markets such as equity derivatives and emerging Europe at the heart of his bank’s engine room, is he about to turn the accepted wisdoms on their head? Clive Horwood reports, with research by Lawrence White.

Allons enfants de la SG!

“Our CIB has a very entrepreneurial spirit, which is also the explanation of our development in retail banking”

From public service to private banking


A BANKER CLOSE to Daniel Bouton sums him up as follows: “It’s hard to know what he’s thinking. He likes to keep you guessing.”

So those who know Société Générale’s chairman and co-CEO best would not have shared the surprise of the rest of the market when, in early June, he announced that SG had taken a 10% stake in Rosbank, Russia’s second-largest banking group.

The fact that Société Générale was making a cross-border acquisition surprised no one. M&A bankers say Bouton has been under pressure for some time to add to his bank’s overseas portfolio. SG was recently outbid when attempting to buy banks in the Ukraine and Turkey; the saga of its bid for Guangdong Development Bank, against a competing consortium put together by Citigroup, rumbles on interminably. Meanwhile, close competitors such as BNP Paribas were buying banks in Italy.

A minority stake in Rosbank was on very few radar screens.

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