the following year purchasing the 25% stake still in the hands of the Polish Treasury to become sole owner of BGZ. However, in 2013 Rabobank abruptly changed its strategy and announced, to general astonishment, in April that year that it had decided to sell its 100% holding in BGZ. BNP Paribas analysed the situation rapidly. Explains Jean-Paul Sabet, Deputy Head of International Retail Banking at BNP Paribas: We moved very quickly on this opportunity as it appeared to offer a number of key advantages: the BGZ branch network, which is well established in small and medium-sized towns, plus the bank s knowhow in agribusi- ness and its strong innovation capabilities in e-banking, complemented the more urban network of BNP Paribas Polska very well. Moreover, BGZ was twice the size of BNP Paribas Polska and had a solid Individual Customer base. Last but not least, the bank was very sound on the risk side due to the strict Risk Management practices of its sole owner. All this added up to an opportunity that we were very keen on. BNP Paribas very quickly made overtures in Poland, but in June of that year the bank made it clear that the Polish authorities were looking for a Polish solution, which appeared to shut the door to this acquisition. However, one month later BNP Paribas discovered that another major international bank was looking at the possibility of bidding for BGZ. It transpired that the Polish solution had taken too long to materialise and that the way was once again open for a BNP Paribas bid. Due diligence confirmed that BGZ was a sound bank and the BNP Paribas CEO gave the go-ahead to negotiate a deal. A meeting took place with Rabobank, in November 2013, during which agreement was reached on the purchase price. The deal was then finalised within two weeks. Jean-Paul Sabet explains the factors which led to a successful conclusion of the take- over: Having experienced failures before this, we had learned the lessons. But the main thing was that we were really determined to succeed because this was a real strategic acquisition in terms of both market share and complementary knowhow, plus the fact that Poland s size and economic growth made it the country of choice for us. I think I can also safely say that BNP Paribas is highly professional when it comes to acquisitions and business integration . In December 2013, when the takeover was announced (pending authorisation from the Polish regulator), Berry Marttin, a member of the Rabobank Executive Committee, declared: We re pleased that a strong and renowned bank, BNP Paribas, will be able to reinforce Bank BGZ s established position as a universal commercial bank. It was very important for Rabobank to find a respectable partner, who can further develop Bank BGŻ s ambitions . On that same occasion, BNP Paribas CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé underlined the strategic nature of the acquisition: We warmly welcome all Bank BGZ staff and clients into our Group. They will help to enhance the excellent work already being done by our teams at BNP Paribas Polska, who have been instrumental in the success of our subsidiary to date. The acquisition of Bank BGZ constitutes a major step towards attaining a critical size in Poland. The transaction will establish the BNP Paribas Group as a reference player in Poland s banking sector .
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