Ten European companies offered to buy stakes in Credit Lyonnais, according to the French government, which is selling one-third of the 2,005-branch bank as part of a rescue program.
The bidders are Credit Agricole SA, France's top bank; Banca Intesa SpA, Italy's No. 2 bank; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya SA, Spain's No. 2 bank; Commerzbank AG, Germany's No. 5; the investment bank Paribas SA; Credit Commercial de France; the insurers Allianz AG and AXA SA; and Banques Populaires SA and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world's biggest luxury goods company.
Some observers had expected Mellon Bank Corp. to be among the bidders, partly because of a statement by Credit Lyonnais' chief executive that he had "great affection" for the Pittsburgh company. Mellon declined to comment on whether it had considered a bid.
France, which is selling stakes of as much as 10% of Credit Lyonnais, will own part the marginally profitable bank and provide it with business partnerships and some protection against takeovers. The rest of the bank will be sold in a public stock offering by July. The European Union has estimated the cost to France of bailing out the bank from bad debts at as much as $25 billion.