French banking group Crédit Agricole has acquired a 9.18% stake in Italian banking major Banco BPM for an undisclosed sum.

Crédit Agricole stated that the deal highlights its ‘appreciation’ for Banco BPM’s “solid franchise, positive financial perspective and a strong and performing management team.”

“It also strengthens the solid relationship with Banco BPM, characterised by the long-standing strategic partnership in consumer finance through the joint-venture Agos. Crédit Agricole aims at expanding the scope of strategic partnerships with Banco BPM,” the French bank added.

Credit Agricole has not applied for approval to cross the 10% threshold in Banco BPM.

Notably, in 2021, the French lender’s local arm had acquired small Italian peer Creval.

Recently, it had made a bid to take over troubled Italian lender Banca Carige but BPER Banca bagged that deal.

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Banco BPM was formed in 2017 by merging Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano.

As per Reuters’ report, Banco BPM has been looking for a merger and was in talks with Crédit Agricole in 2020, but the deal did not materialise.

Earlier this year, Italy’s UniCredit had expressed interest in acquiring Banco BPM but was forced to drop the plans due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

In response to reports of UniCredit’s takeover bid Banco BPM CEO Giuseppe Castagna had said: “We still have a very important path to take on the stock exchange, we have a very important standalone growth path ahead of us that is not yet fully exploited. Banco BPM is worth more.”