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France Bank Takeover Bid Rejected

April 7, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ The boards of French banks Societe Generale and Paribas voted Tuesday to reject a $37 billion hostile takeover bid by Banque Nationale de Paris, reiterating their confidence in plans for their own merger.

The dual rejections confirmed the banks’ opposition to BNP’s proposal, leaving the battle’s outcome to shareholders.

Societe Generale and Paribas were completing a $17.2 billion friendly merger when BNP made its bid for both banks on March 9.

Societe Generale issued a statement Tuesday saying the premium offered by BNP would ``either be very small, or even negative,″ making it unattractive for its shareholders. In addition, it said that BNP’s plan for a three-way merger would be ``neither as great, nor as certain″ as the benefits of a Societe Generale-Paribas link-up.

The three-way merger proposed by BNP would create a $1 trillion, world-leading banking group.

The struggle comes as European banks have been joining forces to better compete in a market transformed by the region’s new common currency, the euro.

Societe Generale and Paribas have repeatedly pledged to fight the takeover attempt by BNP. In particular, Societe Generale said the significant overlap between its own and BNP’s retail banking operations would automatically result in a drop in revenues if the three banks were to merge.

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