Societe Generale said Monday that it would buy Cowen & Co., the New York investment banking firm, for $540 million in cash.

The Paris-based bank would pay Cowen's partners 60% of the purchase price at closing and the remaining 40% in equal installments over three years. Societe Generale has also established a retention pool of $75 million for certain key Cowen employees to be paid over three years.

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