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The logo of Societe Generale is seen on the headquarters at the financial and business district of La Defense near Paris, France, February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Files

BENOIT TESSIER/Reuters

Société Générale is gearing up to launch the sale of its asset management arm Lyxor as the French lender seeks to shore up its finances after two consecutive quarterly losses, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

France’s third-biggest bank has hired Citigroup to oversee the sale, which is expected to kick off in the fourth quarter, the sources said on condition of anonymity as the matter is confidential.

Société Générale and Citi declined to comment.

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Lyxor had about €132-billion (US$156-billion) of assets under management at the end of June, with exchanged-traded funds representing almost half of its operations. It ranks as Europe’s third-largest ETF provider.

The business could be valued at about US$1-billion, one of the sources said, adding that interested parties have recently been contacted as the sale is about to kick off.

It will be aimed at bidders in Europe and United States, including French asset manager Amundi and German rival DWS, one of sources said, while cautioning that no deal was certain.

“It’s all been prepared and is ready to start, but the board has yet to sign it off,” the source said.

The unit posted a 21.6-per-cent decline in revenue to €40-million (US$47-million) in the second quarter, owing to challenging market conditions and the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Société Générale’s boss, Frédéric Oudéa, is trying to strengthen the bank’s capital ratio and may also explore strategic options for its British wealth management unit, Kleinwort Hambros, another source said.

As part of an asset-disposal programme first launched in 2018, Société Générale has parted ways with assets in Eastern Europe and last year agreed to sell its Nordics-based SG Finans division to Nordea Bank for €575-million (US$-681-million).

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The bank said it would sell or close business lines that have not reached critical mass or do not generate synergies.

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