Citi Sounds The Alarm Over Owning French Bank Stocks
France's national election to determine the head of state could be confusing for many given its multi-round voting system. One thing is clear, according to analysts at Citigroup: a surprise victory for Marine Le Pen over Emmanuel Macron could have devastating effects on French bank stocks.
Bloomberg, citing Citigroup's Azzurra Guelfi and Simon Nellis, noted French lenders could lose around 25 percent of their market value if Le Pen, a very vocal and outspoken critic of the euro and the European Union, emerges victorious in May.
Most polls have Le Pen trailing the front-runner Macron, but Citigroup analysts are naturally looking at President Trump's election win and the Brexit voting outcome as signs that polls are meaningless.
The Anti-EU Candidate
The analysts caution that Le Pen's policies, if enacted, could result in a drop in French government bonds, which comprise a notable percentage of the banks' balance sheets. Lenders would also see higher funding costs, lower revenues from capital markets and a slow-down in growth within asset management segments.
Societe Generale SA (ADR) (OTC: SCGLY) could be the most hard hit and lose 38 percent of its value if Le Pen wins as the bank is the most domestic-focused.
Other notable potential decliners include Natixis SA, which could see a decline of 34 percent, followed by Credit Agricole at 30 percent. BNP Paribas could hold up the best and fall just 23 percent.
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