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Natixis expected to seek probe over share price

Natixis, the French investment bank, is expected to reiterate full-year guidance on Monday in an attempt to calm fears that its earnings could be vulnerable to the US subprime mortgage crisis.

The group, which owns a 2.5 per cent stake in IKB Deutsche Industriebank, the German bank that has racked up billions in potential losses in US subprime mortgages, saw its shares plunge 10 per cent in late afternoon trade on Friday on rumours that it could be more exposed to subprime loans than some of its competitors.

The bank, whose first half results are due this month, saw its shares fall sharply in March after it said it had a $1.4bn exposure to the subprime sector. However, according to one person close to the situation, the company has cut its exposure to zero. The person added that the 2.5 per cent stake in IKB represented less than a €30m ($41m) investment for the bank.

In a statement to be released on Monday, the bank is also expected to request an investigation by French stock market regulators over its share price movement. "Nothing justifies the sharp fall in Natixis," said the person.

The rumour on Friday was that a large institutional investor may have sold off its stake. Natixis, formed from the merger of the corporate and investment banking activities of French mutual banks Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne last year, has seen its shares fall some 35 per cent since the start of the year.

UBS on Friday lowered its price target on Natixis from €18.50 to €15, saying it remained sceptical about the risk profile of the investment bank.

"Uncertainty about the earnings outlook going into the first half results do not justify a more positive outlook on the stock, even excluding the risk from potential exposure to subprime lenders which currently cannot be quantified," it said.

Source: Financial Times
Date: 08.08.2007 [68]
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