Belgian cooperative bank Crelan NV will sign an agreement to buy the Belgian banking business of French insurance group Axa SA for €540 million in cash in a deal that will create the fifth-largest Belgian bank, Belgian financial daily L'Echo reported.
The sale also includes the transfer of Crelan's insurance arm to Axa, according to the Oct. 24 report. Crelan has also signed a long-term distribution agreement under which it will sell Axa's nonlife insurance products in Belgium, the report said.
The deal will allow Crelan to double in size as it holds 6% of the mortgage market, while Axa Banque has 7%, L'Echo said. The merged bank will have more than 1,100 branches as Crelan currently has 586 and Axa Banque has 555.
Talks between the two sides started in August, the paper said.