SocGen Seals Its Rosbank Acquisition

PARIS -- French bank Societe Generale said it had finalized its acquisition of a majority stake in the Russian retail bank Rosbank.

SocGen -- reeling from a massive trading scandal it said cost it nearly 5 billion euros ($7 billion) -- said in a statement late Wednesday it now holds 50 percent plus one share in Rosbank.

The acquisition makes SocGen one of Russia's leading banks, the statement said.

"We would like to lead an ambitious and focused expansion strategy to capitalize on opportunities in the local banking market," the statement quoted SocGen chairman and chief executive Daniel Bouton as saying. "We hope to maintain lasting cooperation with our Russian partners who have supported the successful development of Rosbank."

The bank said that, in accordance with Russian law, it would launch a mandatory offer to minority shareholders.

In 2006, SocGen doubled its stake in Rosbank to 20 percent, with an option to buy at least another 30 percent and take control of the bank within two years.

Rosbank is one of Russia's largest banks, with 600 branches spread across the country.

Earlier this week, SocGen launched a heavily discounted rights issue, seeking nearly 5.5 billion euros ($8 billion). The move was a bid to restore its position as a top-tier bank in the aftermath of last month's trading scandal, the biggest-ever loss blamed on a single trader.