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Brazzaville Witholds Support For Societe Generale Sale

FILE: People enter the headquarters building of French bank Societe Generale, on Thurs. Jan. 24, 2008, outside Paris. The French bank says it wants to sell African assets.

DAKAR — The government of the Republic of Congo/Brazzaville has said it will not recognize Societe Generale's sale of its country subsidiary to Vista Group because the bank did not give it a right of first refusal.

"The Congolese state strongly denounces this approach and considers the agreement of the Societe Generale Group to sell its stake to the Vista Group as null," the finance ministry statement said, adding that it did not exclude the use of legal recourse against the Societe Generale.

An official of Congo's finance ministry confirmed the authenticity of the statement to Reuters on Thursday, adding that the government had been informed of the planned sale but had asked SocGen to hold off on any decision because it wanted to exercise its right of first refusal.

SocGen said on June 8 that it had reached an agreement to sell its subsidiaries in Congo Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea to Vista Group for an undisclosed amount. The bank owned 93.5% of Societe General Congo.

Congo's finance ministry said in a statement dated June 12 that it was surprised by the announcement by SocGen that it had sold some of its subsidiaries in Africa, including those in the Republic of Congo.

"Societe Generale is a responsible player and the local and regional regulatory authorities have been informed," the French bank said in an e-mailed statement.

"The completion of these transactions, which could take place by the end of 2023, is subject to the approval of the entities' governing bodies, the usual suspensive conditions and the validation of the competent financial and regulatory authorities," it added.