Gestation was long and uncertain. But after more than 18 months of discussions, the Crédit Agricole and the Chinese group Citic Securities signed yesterday a letter of intent to create a "global brokerage player." Found a few days of the end of the period of exclusivity of discussions on June 30, the agreement should be signed formally in July, to materialize by the end of the year by a transfer of securities.
The operation is done in several stages. CITIC Securities (Citics), the investment of Chinese conglomerate Citic Bank, will take 19.9 of CLSA and Cheuvreux, two CACIB brokers, bank financing and investment of the mutual insurance group, for $ 374 million. They will then close by the end of the year to create a new entity. "The brokerage industry is to globalize, both in research and execution, explains Jean-Yves Hocher, General Manager of Credit Agricole CIB (CACIB).". There is a real expectation on the part of institutional investors and large businesses, who now have global needs to work with global brokers.
Citics investment allows mutual group closer to its two brokers, which co-exist for several years without having ever worked together.
Integration, work will begin after the summer, will be an opportunity to rationalize the existing device, by merging the American subsidiaries, for example, by strengthening the London platform or by closing some offices. The current staff of the new together, whose name was not revealed, amounted to a little more than 2,100 people, including 1,400 for CLSA.
Governance should not pose major difficulties. "Strategic decisions will be taken in two, but the cockpit is provided by the majority shareholder, explains Jean-Yves Hocher." With 20, the share of Citics is significant, but we clearly leaves the commands. "The Chinese group should be in proportion to its participation number of Directors and the management of the entity should be given to managers of CLSA.
The presence of Citics in the capital of the future broker should also translate into a flow of important new business, especially from large Chinese group customers, even if the Chinese market, on which Citics is leader, is not included in the agreement. "Great Chinese customers of Citics pass now by CLSA for everything concerning their international activities, while it was not clear until now", said Jean-Yves Hocher. However no exclusive agreement was signed.
Remains that the original project was more ambitious. Its perimeter has changed significantly since the first official announcement from May 2010. The two groups were to provide most important assets and build an architecture to floors, with a different distribution of the capital on the geographies.
The French Bank had to its activities in derivatives shares, and part of the business bank, while Citics had to stay in the joint venture activities of brokerage in China, market closed to foreigners and representing a real bonanza. This hypothesis however was ousted quickly. The Chinese group would also wished to restrict the agreement to CLSA, without including Cheuvreux, in losses last year. But the leaders of the Green Bank made a non-negotiable condition.
Finally, the final price is lower than estimated travelling since the beginning of discussions, because it values the completeness of assets made by the Credit Agricole, approximately $ 1.8 billion, or 1.27 billion EUR - half less than the mentioned figures of non-official source in recent months.