CASABLANCA: French bank Societe Generale is interested in acquisition opportunities in Egypt but will keep its growth strategy organic in other areas where it is already present, said its international retail head.
Bernardo Sanchez Incera, deputy Chief Executive for international retail banking, also said he expects Russian operations to resume profitability next year.
"We have reached break even during the third quarter. Our idea is to progress and return (Russian operations) to profitability next year," Incera told Reuters in an interview.
He was speaking in Casablanca on Thursday on the sidelines of a presentation by the bank of its retail banking growth strategy.
Stung during the financial crisis by toxic asset losses and the Jerome Kerviel trading scandal, SocGen is betting on the Russian market in its strategy over the next few years.
The bank’s retail growth strategy will be organic and for areas where SocGen is already present such as North African countries, save for Egypt.
"The core of our development is centered on organic growth in the areas where we have presence. A single nuance is to be made for countries where we are already modestly present or where our market share is not sufficient.
"In these countries, we are ready to take advantage of opportunities to grow the size of our operation and market share," Incera said, citing only Egypt.
"Egypt is very important, it’s a huge country with a huge growth potential and where the size of our operation can be increased. If we find an acquisition opportunity, it will help us move faster."
During the presentation, Incera said that SocGen aims to become among the top three retail banks in central, eastern Europe and Russia in 2015.
"Russia is expected to account for 15 percent of Societe Generale’s revenues in 2012 and the biggest revenue contributor in 2015," he said.
Now at 13 million in 41 countries – of which 3 million are in Russia – SocGen aims to increase the number of its retail customers to 20 million in 2015, said Incera.