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Thu, Apr 30, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Societe Generale chief Bouton resigns to ‘protect’ company

AFP , PARIS

Societe Generale president Daniel Bouton answers questions during an interview at the firm’s headquarters in Paris on Feb. 20.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Daniel Bouton, president of French bank Societe Generale, told daily Le Figaro yesterday he was resigning to “protect” the company.

“I have handed in my resignation. The board will elect a new president on May 6. I am choosing to go now to protect the bank. I have become the target of incessant attacks that finally damage the company that I am very attached to,” Bouton said.

The banker, who admitted “I certainly made errors,” said he would leave with no golden handshake.

Societe Generale denied on Monday a press report that it could face losses of up to 10 billion euros (US$13 billion) because of risky investments at one of its asset management units.

“Societe Generale formally denies the claims published by Liberation today,” said a statement by the bank, which last year announced losses of 4.9 billion euros in a rogue trading scandal it blames on trader Jerome Kerviel.

The left-wing daily Liberation said Societe Generale’s SGAM Alternative Investments unit had invested heavily in complex financial products, which had left the bank with 10.4 billion euros in “toxic” assets at the start of last year.

The detailed report, splashed over Liberation’s front and four inside pages and headlined “The other scandal at Societe Generale,” described the products as “unsellable.”

It added that “even if ... the bank has recorded losses of ‘only’ 1.2 billion euros, the final bill could reach 10 billion.”

But Societe Generale said that Liberation had confused losses with asset transfers at the division.

It noted that “SGAM’s losses for 2008 were 258 million euros after tax” as shown in the bank’s results statement in February.

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