La Poste will expand financial services under new majority owner CDC
for economics and finances
La Poste will get a change of state ownership and expand its highly profitable financial services dramatically under “historic” plans presented today by the French government, which ruled out any postal privatisation.
The state-owned investment fund Caisse des Depots (CDC) will increase its existing minority stake in the French postal group to a majority stake of between 50% and 60% through a transfer of financial holdings scheduled for completion by the end of 2019. CDC will transfer its 41% stake in state-owned insurer CNP Assurances to La Poste in exchange for additional shares in the postal group.
This transfer will give La Poste, which already owns 18% of CNP, a majority 59% stake in the insurer. It will then merge its banking subsidiary La Banque Postale with CNP to create a large single financial services company.
Describing the plans as “historic”, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters there was “an absolute need to reinvent La Poste’s business” due to the structural decline of the traditional mail business.
He said the enlarged La Poste financial business would be “one of the most important public financial groups in the world”. Its main task would be to provide financial services in rural areas, where mainstream banks are closing unviable branches, by financing local authorities, public services and other businesses.
But Le Maire emphasised to French radio: “La Poste will remain a public enterprise. There will not be any privatisation, (there is) no intention of privatising.”
The minister explained that La Poste will remain under 100% public ownership through CDC and the state, and underlined that the group’s CEO will continue to be appointed directly by the French President.
The financial importance of La Banque Postale to the group was underlined in the recent results for first half of 2018. La Poste achieved overall operating profits of €806 million on turnover of €12.25 billion. La Banque Postale contributed profits of €546 million on revenues of just over €2.9 billion.