French BPCE To Buy 5% Stake In Morocco’s BCP

French cooperative bank BPCE will buy a 5 percent stake in Morocco’s third-biggest lender Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP) under a capital increase plan that could later involve the stake rising to as much as 15 percent.

Moroccan bourse watchdog CDVM had suspended trading of BCP shares on Friday pending what it said was an “important announcement.” There has been no announcement to date.

Two sources told Reuters BPCE would start by acquiring a 5 percent stake in BCP, one of the Morocco’s top three lenders, through a capital increase this year.

“The project with BPCE calls for the French lender to take a 5 percent stake in BCP through a capital increase. An official announcement will be made today,” one of the sources said.

Another source said: “BCP is prepared to give BPCE as much as 15 percent through two subsequent capital increases of 5 percent each.”

The plan to take a 5 percent stake in the Moroccan lender, which has a market capitalization of 30.8 billion dirhams ($3.6 billion), was first reported on Monday by news website Wansquare.

BPCE in December announced the sale of a 23.8 percent stake in Moroccan mortgage lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier for close to 120 million euros.

The Moroccan government last year raised 5.3 billion dirhams by selling a 20 percent stake in BCP at a time when a spending spree to contain street protests inspired by the Arab Spring revolts has burdened public finances, Reuters reported.

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