Belgium’s federal public holding company, SFPI-FPIM had placed 33 million shares of the French lender with investors at a price of €64.96 per share for €2.17bn, which implies a 1.8% discount to the bank’s closing price


BNP Paribas Bank w Białymstoku. (Credit: Henryk Borawski/Wikimedia Commons)

Belgium, through its federal public holding company SFPI-FPIM, has reportedly sold shares of BNP Paribas worth €2.17bn, reducing its stake in the French lender by about a third.

SFPI had placed 33 million shares with investors at a price of €64.96 per share, which implies a 1.8% discount to BNP Paribas’ closing price, reported Reuters.

The Belgian agency currently retains a 5.1% stake in BNP Paribas, with plans to reduce its exposure to the financial services sector.

SFPI would continue to support the French lender, and has agreed not to sell further shares within a period of 90 days, said the publication.

The government agency told Reuters: “Following the transaction, SFPI-FPIM confirms its continued support of BNP Paribas and belief in the long-term strategy of the company.”

In 2008, Belgium purchased BNP Paribas’ shares to bail out the financial group Fortis.

Fortis was in trouble after it acquired the Dutch operations of ABN AMRO for a sum of €24bn, followed by a credit crunch in the market, and the global financial crisis.

The French lender acquired Fortis, with the Belgian and Luxembourg governments becoming minority shareholders, in exchange for shares in BNP Paribas.

Belgium was BNP Paribas’ top shareholder, holding more shares than asset managers Amundi and BlackRock with 7% and 6% of the stakes, respectively.

Lazard advised Belgium, while BNP Paribas Fortis, BofA Securities and Goldman Sachs International served as joint book-runners, on the transaction.

Earlier this year, BNP Paribas secured all the necessary regulatory approvals to complete its previously announced sale of Bank of the West to Bank of Montreal for $16.3bn.

Last month, the company signed a long-term partnership to improve cross-border coverage and access to the global network for its commercial banking clients.