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Credit Agricole and Santander ponder how best to respond to Italian bank merger

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Credit Agricole and Santander ponder how best to respond to Italian bank merger

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Share in Italy’s Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo fell on the first day of trading after they released details of their planned merger. The shares in Italy’s second and third largest banks had risen about 10% since last Thursday when merger talks were first disclosed; traders said some of the fall was from profit taking. The merger creates a difficult situation for France’s Credit Agricole.

One Italian newspaper report said it would now like to take over up to 800 of the branches that Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo may have to sell to satisfy competition regulators or because of geographical overlaps. That would make up for the fact that the French bank’s stake in Banca Intesa would drop from 17.8% to 9.1% and its earnings per share would fall by 5.3%.

Credit Agricole declined to comment on the newspaper report. Alternatively it could sell some of its shares in Intesa and use the money for other takeovers. That is also an alternative for Spanish bank Santander which owns nearly 8.4% of Sanpaolo. Santander said Sanpaolo is undervalued in the merger and it is considering how to “maximise the value” of its stake.