By Maya Nikolaeva
PARIS, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Frederic Oudea promised Societe Generale investors “growth with lower risk” after he became chief executive in 2008, the year a rogue trader lost billions in equity derivatives and brought the French bank close to collapse.
Fast forward a decade and SocGen’s share price is at a record low and the bank’s market capitalisation 78% lower than where it was when Oudea took over, after losses on complex investment products wiped out equity trading revenue in the first and second quarters of 2020.
“The current valuation of SocGen makes no sense,” Oudea, whose term expires in 2023, told Reuters.
The bank’s share price, which closed up 6.7% at 12.2 euros on Tuesday, gives it a market capitalisation of about 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion), around a quarter of that of rival BNP Paribas BNPP.PA and half that of Credit Agricole CAGR.PA.
Oudea has responded to the latest set-back by overhauling the top management at France’s third-largest largest bank and is once again focused on delivering lower risk growth.
The 57-year-old Parisian says that a revamped markets unit, coupled with an end to the European Central Bank’s ban on dividend payments, which limits how banks can reward their shareholders, and a restructuring of SocGen’s retail business can reverse the situation.
“The situation should be very different in three or four quarters,” Oudea, who is the longest-serving current CEO of a major European bank, said during a meeting at SocGen’s modernist twin tower offices in the La Defense district of Paris.
“We have recently confirmed our guidance to deliver improved performances in the second half, in particular regarding our equity business, and have launched a promising study to create a new leading retail bank in France,” he said.
In 2010, Oudea said lowering