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Fusioni di banche nazionali: implicazioni e considerazioni legali: –

Fusioni bancarie La fusione può essere definita pittoricamente. Si tratta di un’operazione che “si intende per due società come per due fiumi che uniscono le loro acque, uno conservando il nome e nascendo dall’altro, oppure entrambi confluendo a formare un fiume formato esclusivamente da due acque. , fiume che d’ora innanzi avrà una nuova denominazione”.  Pertanto, in termini giuridici, due o più società procedono all’unificazione dei beni per non formare più un’unica società. L’  articolo 1844-4 del codice civile menziona due tipi di fusione.  Si tratta della fusione per incorporazione secondo la quale una società viene  assorbita  da un’altra società, la prima scomparendo.L’operazione può anche consistere nella costituzione di una nuova società che riceverà i beni delle società partecipanti all’operazione, società che a loro volta scompariranno. Le fusioni di soggetti giuridici autonomi possono essere effettuate anche mediante acquisizione di quote senza fusione tra i soggetti interessati, che restano giuridicamente distinti. Quest’ultima operazione è un semplice recupero.
2. – Queste due nozioni si riferiscono alla concentrazione, anche se non tutte le fusioni sono concentrazioni. Nel linguaggio comune, il termine “concentrazione” è definito come l’azione di convergere, riunirsi o riunirsi in un unico luogo. Questa definizione generale può essere paragonata alla concezione degli economisti e dei giuristi.In senso lato, vi si definisce concentrazione ogni operazione giuridica tendente a creare unità decisionale tra imprese, al fine di accrescerne il potere economico. Si tratta, in senso stretto, di operazioni giuridiche tendenti a creare un’unità decisionale tra le società sia attraverso la creazione di legami strutturali che modificano l’identità giuridica delle società interessate,

3. – Queste definizioni si applicano alle fusioni e acquisizioni bancarie. Tuttavia, solo le operazioni che coinvolgono enti creditizi o istituti finanziari sono qualificate. L’espressione copre diverse situazioni: concentrazioni prettamente bancarie, concentrazioni finanziarie, concentrazioni bancarie e finanziarie, ma anche concentrazioni prevalentemente bancarie o finanziarie.

4. – Pur presentando analogie con le fusioni realizzate in altri settori dell’economia, gli ostacoli alla realizzazione di tali operazioni sono molto più numerosi e complessi. Indubbiamente pongono problemi specifici legati alle loro condizioni istituzionali, alle loro interazioni con questioni di politica monetaria e ai requisiti prudenziali legati in particolare all’esistenza di rischio sistemico. La ragione essenziale di questa situazione risiede nel fatto che il sistema bancario è specifico. Le banche, infatti, drenano il risparmio e allocano i prestiti secondo scelte o criteri di valutazione decisivi per l’orientamento dell’economia. Nella misura in cui questi sono depositari di fondi appartenenti ad altri,il sistema bancario non è solo il principale detentore di liquidità ma anche il principale prestatore di servizi di pagamento. Pertanto, costituisce una parte vitale della maggior parte delle transazioni economiche. Essa permea così tanto l’economia da influenzarne il funzionamento in modo tale che nessun altro ramo di attività potrebbe corrispondervi. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese.È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento.È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento. È quindi tradizionalmente considerato strategico dallo Stato francese. È quindi soggetto a una specifica legge professionale che ne disciplina il corretto funzionamento.

5. – Ritorneremo alle fonti delle concentration bancarie (I) per presentare meglio il movimento delle fusioni e acquisizioni bancarie contemporanee (II). Ciò consenterà di definire la metodologia da adottare per cogliere questo processo in modo innovativo (III).

I/ Fonti delle concentration bancarie

6. – Ci si richiama volentieri alla metafora della sorgente per dimostrare che un contesto normativo favorevole alle concentrazioni bancarie (A) nonché le cause economiche e gestionali si rivelano fundamentali (B) per far crescere il fiume.

A/ Un contesto giuridico favorevole alle concentrazioni bancarie

7. – La Francia è un paese latino di diritto scritto. The evolution of the banking system has traditionally determined the leggie that regulates the vigilance on the bank, so it relates to the bank and the State. Questa caratteristica induce a sua volta frequenti scambi tra i steer delle banche e quelli dello Stato. Anche i rapporti banca-economia si basano essenzialmente sul diritto commercial scritto. It results, from part of the formwork, to an atteggiamento and a funzionamento più giuridico and administrative che economico e finanziario. The legge ha quindi un posto preponderante all’interno delle banche.

8. – In origin erano soggetti al diritto comune, ma in seguito alla clamorosa crisi degli anni Trenta, furono loro imposti specifici regolamenti. Ciò riorganizzò la professione bancaria e creò un sistema di controllo pubblico. Queste disposizioni erano giustificate dal desiderio di proteggere i depositanti da eventuali fallimenti degli istituti. Tuttavia, in sostanza, dietro le giustificazioni statali, c’è l’intero settore che la legge ha organizzato con l’obiettivo di controllare questo ingranaggio essenziale dell’economia. Il sistema bancario inglese è quindi da tempo sostanzialmente sottomesso all’autorità pubblica, sia per quanto riguarda la detention del capital, sia per quanto riguarda la fissazione delle regole di funzionamento del mercato.

9. – La vigilanza sulle banche è stata istituita con le leggi del 13 e 14/06/1941. Questa struttura ha successivemente subtilo delle modifiche. Lo Stato ha nationalizzato con legge del 02/12/1945 i quattro istituti di credito nazionali. Infine, all’inizio degli anni ’80, nazionalizzò anche trentasei banche per estendere il suo controllo sul 75% dei crediti distribuiti con l’idea di controllare questo ingranaggio essenziale dell’economia. La tecnica utilizzata è sempre stata la stessa: le azioni representative del capital delle società nazionalizzate interessate sono state trasferite allo Stato in piena proprietà, ad eccezione delle azioni detenute da persone giuridiche già appenenti al settore pubblico o destinate ad entrarvi. say diritto.Tutte le principali banche sono quindi passate sotto il controllo statale.

Fusioni e acquisizioni bancarie europee: quadro normativo e sfide: –

Gli interventi statali nel sistema bancario erano quindi frequenti. Sono state adottate misure relative all’ambiente bancario, come la riforma del diritto societario, la creazione della Commissione di Borsa, la partecipazione dei lavoratori per abituare le classi popolari all’azionariato e contribuire così allo sviluppo della marcia. finanziario. A ciò si aggiungono le norme direttamente tese a rimodellare il sistema bancario e a concentrarlo: ricordiamo i decreti del 25/01/1966 e 23/12/1966 di decompartimentazione delle banche di investimento e di deposito, il decreto del 26/05/1966 di fusione della Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie e del Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris per formare la Banque Nationale de Paris.Questa operazione avviata dallo Stato costituisce la prima grande concentrazione bancaria francese. Tuttavia,

10. – Dalla metà degli anni ’80, il governo organizzò così una liberalizzazione lasciando più spazio alla libera concorrenza nell’ambito della legge bancaria del 24/01/1984. Le disposizioni di questa legge hanno quindi creato un contesto normativo favorevole alle concentrazioni bancarie. Questo è l’obiettivo implicito delle “tre D: Disintermediazione, Deregolazione, Decompartimentazione”.

With regard to intermediation, the main banking function consists in creating money by granting loans, then collecting it from depositors and savers. One of the essential changes of the 1970s and 1980s was the considerable development of disintermediation by issuing mainly shares and bonds subscribed either directly or indirectly by savers or investors. Traditional banking intermediation, within the framework of retail banking, has decreased. On the other hand, securities transactions occupy a growing place in banks’ balance sheets. “Financial disintermediation thus tends to increase competition between banks and markets. Due to increased market competition,
Regarding deregulation, two essential measures have lifted the constraints weighing on French banks. The first concerns the freedom to open counters, which has favored the growth of banks. The principle of prior authorization issued by the Credit Institutions Committee, established in 1982, was repealed in 1986. The second concerns the abolition of the credit framework which favored the development of competition and the process of concentration. Finally, the decompartmentalization aimed to allow the integration of financial markets as well as to establish a healthy competition between the main protagonists of the financial scene. This decompartmentalization is indisputable, because until the arrival of liberal measures, the French system was characterized by a double mosaic of credits and institutions which preserved monopolies. However,

11. – The first innovation of the law of 01/24/1984 concerned the change in the institutional framework. Thus, article 1 of the law, inserted in the Monetary and Financial Code in article L. 311-1, defines not the notion of bank, but of credit institution.

Before 1984, there were more than thirty different statutes of credit establishments often giving their beneficiaries a monopoly on the exercise of certain activities, often accompanied by fiscal and financial advantages. The law partially unifies banking statutes and recognizes the universal vocation of credit institutions. This measure favored the process of concentration by limiting the number of existing statutes. This relative trivialization of statutes was of paramount importance for the organization of the profession. Indeed, once they emerged from a special legal regime, the establishments concerned regained their freedom of organization and were able to envisage mergers that had been difficult to achieve until then.

Cependant, malgré cette unification, le droit n’a pas une vocation totalement universelle. C’est une loi de compromis qui respecte les différents intérêts en présence. Même si un cadre juridique unique a été établi, cela ne signifie pas que les spécificités statutaires des banques coopératives ou mutualistes ont disparu. Cela a nécessairement un impact sur la concentration du système bancaire.

Dès lors, il n’est pas interdit de s’interroger sur les justifications du maintien de plusieurs statuts. Leur suppression constituerait un facteur supplémentaire de concentration qui stimulerait les fusions nécessaires pour permettre la constitution de groupes d’une taille adaptée à la dimension du marché européen.

12. – L’article 18 de la loi bancaire, inséré à l’article L. 511-9 du code monétaire et financier, définit cinq catégories d’établissements de crédit :

– Les banques : elles peuvent effectuer toutes les opérations.

– Banques mutualistes ou coopératives : il s’agit des Banques Populaires, du Crédit Agricole, du Crédit Mutuel et des Caisses d’Epargne. Ces derniers étaient à l’origine une catégorie indépendante. En 1999, ils ont été intégrés au secteur mutualiste. Le législateur leur a donc donné une situation hybride. En effet, ce groupe est composé d’actionnaires publics et mutualistes. De plus, la perte du caractère non lucratif des fonds a une conséquence importante. Ces derniers peuvent acquérir des banques commerciales ou d’autres établissements à but lucratif. Puis, quelques semaines après la réforme législative, en août 1999, le groupe des caisses d’épargne rachète le Crédit Foncier de France.

– Cooperative municipali di credito: pur avendo ormai il monopolio del prestito su pegno, questa attività è diventata marginale a favore di altre forme di prestito al consumo che esse concedono.
BR> Queste tre categorie di enti possono svolgere tutte le operazioni bancarie, ma “nel rispetto dei limiti risultanti dai testi legislativi e regolamentari che le disciplinano”.

La legge è ancora più restrittiva per la quarta e la quinta categoria. Non possono ricevere depositi a vista dal pubblico o di durata inferiore a due anni.

– Le società finanziarie possono svolgere esclusivamente operazioni bancarie risultanti o dal provvedimento autorizzativo che le riguarda, ovvero dalle disposizioni legislative e regolamentari ad esse proprie. Riuniscono una vasta gamma di stabilimenti tra cui società di costruzioni e società di leasing. Questi ultimi concedono una particolare forma di credito, denominata leasing o leasing finanziario, acquistando beni che vengono poi “locati” ai clienti per un periodo determinato, avendo questi ultimi al termine del contratto la possibilità di acquistare i beni al loro valore residuo . .

– Gli istituti finanziari specializzati sono organismi specializzati ai quali lo Stato ha affidato una particolare missione di pubblico interesse. Le loro operazioni devono essere collegate a questa missione. Includono in particolare il Crédit Foncier de France. È anche la Société des Bourses Françaises che gestisce il mercato mobiliare francese. Hanno accolto con favore la Banca di sviluppo per le piccole e medie imprese, risultante dalla fusione tra il Crédit d’Equipement des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises e la Société Française d’Assurance sur Capital à Risque des PME. La sua missione è promuovere l’accesso delle piccole e medie imprese al finanziamento bancario e aiutarle a rafforzare la loro struttura finanziaria.Comprendono, inoltre, le Società di Sviluppo Regionale, che mirano a promuovere, attraverso partecipazioni, lo sviluppo delle imprese di medie dimensioni. Quest’ultima è entrata in crisi negli anni ’90. Pertanto, non potevano mantenere la loro indipendenza. Le società di sviluppo regionale Champex, Expanso, Tofinso, Solder e Sodero sono state così rilevate dalle casse di risparmio. Sodecco è stata acquisita dalla Banque Régionale de l’Ouest. La società di sviluppo territoriale del Nord-Pas de Calais si è rivolta al Crédit Lyonnais. SADE ha assunto il controllo della Société de développement régional du Sud-Est, poi è stata oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME.Quest’ultima è entrata in crisi negli anni ’90. Pertanto, non potevano mantenere la loro indipendenza. Le società di sviluppo regionale Champex, Expanso, Tofinso, Solder e Sodero sono state così rilevate dalle casse di risparmio. è stata poi oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME. è stata poi oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME. è stata poi oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME.è stata poi oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME. è stata poi oggetto di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto da parte della Banque Générale du Luxembourg. Infine, la Società di sviluppo regionale della Bretagna si è rivolta al BDPME.

13. – Si precisa che lo stato attuale del diritto bancario non è solo opera della legge 24/01/1984. Negli anni successivi furono adottati vari testi che contribuirono a rafforzare il fenomeno della concentrazione. In primo luogo, sono state previste diverse tipologie di coefficienti per garantire la liquidità, la solvibilità nonché l’equilibrio della struttura finanziaria degli enti creditizi.

La maggior parte dei rapporti era basata sui fondi propri degli enti creditizi. Per garantire l’uniformità delle soluzioni in Europa, una direttiva sui fondi propri del 17/04/1989, modificata il 03/12/1991 e il 16/03/1992, si è impegnata a definire tale concetto. Si ispira principalmente alle regole emanate sotto l’egida del Comitato di Vigilanza Bancaria che ha sede a Basilea presso la Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali. Il suo contenuto è stato introdotto in Francia dal regolamento del comitato di regolamentazione bancaria n. 90-02 del 23/02/1990, più volte modificato.

Tale direttiva comunitaria è stata integrata da una direttiva del 18/12/1989 relativa al coefficiente di solvibilità degli enti creditizi, recepita in Francia dal Regolamento n. 91-05 del 15/02/1991. Successivamente, la direttiva comunitaria del 21/12/1992 sul monitoraggio e il controllo dei grandi fidi degli enti creditizi è stata recepita in Francia dal regolamento n. 93-05 del 21/12/1993. Infine, la direttiva comunitaria del 15/03/1993 sull’adeguatezza patrimoniale delle imprese di investimento e degli enti creditizi ha definito regole comuni in materia di rischi di mercato. È stato recepito dai regolamenti del comitato di regolamentazione bancaria n. 95-02 e n. 95-05 del 21/07/1995, che hanno modificato il regolamento n. 91-05.

Questi rapporti restrittivi hanno portato a riconciliazioni tra assicuratori e banche. Quest’ultimo, infatti, aveva bisogno di una notevole liquidità da parte degli assicuratori. Questi rapporti hanno anche generato il sostegno degli istituti di credito, che non dispongono di capitale sufficiente, con gruppi più grandi.

Inoltre, la seconda direttiva bancaria ha liberalizzato le attività bancarie nell’Unione Europea, in particolare stabilendo un’unica licenza bancaria in tutti i paesi membri. Ha inoltre consentito di uniformare le regole prudenziali tra gli Stati membri, in particolare in termini di capitale minimo.

Inoltre, la Direttiva CEE n. 93/22 adottata il 05/10/1993 ha agevolato la libera prestazione dei servizi e la libertà di stabilimento nei mercati finanziari dell’Unione Europea per qualsiasi prestatore di servizi di investimento avente la propria sede legale o la propria direzione effettiva in uno degli Stati membri. A tal fine è stato introdotto un cosiddetto sistema di “passaporto europeo”. Ciò non implica una completa armonizzazione degli standard relativi alle condizioni di accesso all’attività di prestatore di servizi di investimento. Si basa sul principio del riconoscimento delle omologazioni concesse dalle autorità dello Stato membro di origine.La direttiva stabilisce alcune condizioni minime di armonizzazione relative al rilascio del passaporto europeo, ma lo Stato membro di origine resta libero di emanare regole più severe.

Di conseguenza, la legge del 1984 è stata modificata dalla legge n° 92-665 del 16/07/1992 che recepisce la direttiva CEE del 15/12/1989. Essa sanciva il principio della libertà di stabilimento, della prestazione di servizi negli Stati membri della Comunità, del mutuo riconoscimento delle autorizzazioni rilasciate da queste ultime e del principio del controllo da parte del Paese di origine. La novità più significativa risiede dunque nel sistema della patente unica: l’omologazione rilasciata dallo Stato della sede è valida una volta per tutte in tutta la Comunità. Questa creazione di un mercato bancario unico è stata ovviamente la prima causa di concentrazione poiché gli istituti di credito hanno potuto competere liberamente in tutta Europa.

Finally, EEC directive n° 93/22 of 05/10/1993 was transposed into French law by law n° 96-597 of 07/02/1996. The latter adopts a new legal structure based on trades and no longer on markets. It consecrates the unity of the financial market while maintaining the specificity of financial intermediation in relation to credit businesses.

14. – Ultimately, the banking law as well as the texts drawn up subsequently allowed deregulation, harmonization of prudential rules and logically an activation of competition between credit institutions. This constituted a factor of concentration in the banking system. In particular, Community law has been at the origin of a large number of developments resulting in the acceleration of mergers.

15. – In tale contesto, lo Stato doveva privatizzare le banche. Questo processo ha contribuito anche ad aumentare la concentrazione del sistema bancario. Infatti, tornate al settore privato, le principali istituzioni riconquistarono la loro libertà di iniziativa e poterono impegnarsi in concentrazioni che la loro appartenenza al settore pubblico aveva a lungo ostacolato. Il passaggio delle banche dal settore pubblico al settore privato è avvenuto principalmente in tre fasi. Le privatizzazioni dal 1986 al 1988 hanno coinvolto 73 banche, principalmente la Banque du Bâtiment et des Travaux Publics, la Banque Industrielle et Immobilière Privée, la Caisse Nationale du Crédit Agricole, la Compagnie Financière de Paribas, la Compagnie Financière de Suez, la Compagnie Financière Credit Commercial de France e Société Générale. Dopo una pausa di cinque anni, corrispondente al periodo “ni-ni”, il programma di privatizzazioni è ripreso nel 1993. Le privatizzazioni del 1993 e del 1994 hanno riguardato in particolare BNP e Banque Marseillaise de Crédit. Da allora sono stati effettuati nuovi trasferimenti dal settore pubblico al settore privato: nel 1995 hanno riguardato BFCE e Crédit Local de France, nel 1996 due banche del gruppo Renault e tre filiali del Crédit Lyonnais, nel 1997 una filiale del gruppo GAN, nel 1998 le altre filiali del GAN, in particolare il gruppo CIC nonché la Société Marseillaise de Crédit e le sue controllate, nel 1999 il Crédit Lyonnais e infine nel 2001 la banca Hervet. Le privatizzazioni del 1993 e del 1994 hanno riguardato in particolare BNP e Banque Marseillaise de Crédit. Da allora sono stati effettuati nuovi trasferimenti dal settore pubblico al settore privato: nel 1995 hanno riguardato BFCE e Crédit Local de France, nel 1996 due banche del gruppo Renault et tre filiali del Crédit Lyonnais, nel 1997 una subsidiary de la gruppo GAN, nel 1998 le altre filiali del GAN, in particolare anche il gruppo CIC comme la Société Marseillaise de Crédit and the sue subsidiary, nel 1999 Crédit Lyonnais and infine nel 2001 Banque Hervet. The privatizzazioni del 1993 e del 1994 hanno riguardato in particolare BNP and Banque Marseillaise de Crédit.Da allora sono stati effettuati nuovi trasferimenti dal settore pubblico al settore privato: nel 1995 hanno riguardato BFCE e Crédit Local de France, nel 1996 due banche del gruppo Renault et tre filiali del Crédit Lyonnais, nel 1997 una subsidiary de la gruppo GAN, nel 1998 le altre filiali del GAN, in particolare il gruppo CIC notché the Société Marseillaise de Crédit and the sue controllate,

16. – Di fronte a question cambiamenti del mercato bancario, gli istituti di credito stanno ora basando la loro strategia sulla redditività. Il trasferimento del sistema bancario dalla sfera institutionale, anche amministrativa, a quella commercial, ne ormai un’attività competitiva. Tuttavia, è indiscutibile che la concorrenza è all’origine del processo di concentration.

17. – Inoltre, nell’ambito dei controlli legali, va notato che le banche favoricono la concentration rispetto ad altre strategy suscettibili di generare risparmio, perché le autorità guaranteed della concorrenza le guardano con benevolenza. . In effect, the cooperazione può essere condannata sur la base dell’accordo quando il suo scopo è impedire, restringere o falsare la concorrenza su un mercato. The guaranteed authority of the national concorrenza e comunitarie rigorously controls the anticoncorrenziali practice. Così, le banche aggirano the difficoltà concentrating. Ciò che è proibito è sostituito da ciò che è incoraggiato.Queste concentration sono soggette a un controllo più ambiguo che mira in particolare a verificare se l’operazione crei o rafforzi una dominant position, comme vedremo negli sviluppi successivi. In primo luogo, the general interest weighs molto nel controllo nazionale delle fusioni. Posto che il Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze è favorevole alla concentration del sistema bancario inglese, è lecito ritenere che if opporrà solo eccezionalmente a tali operazioni in nome della tutela della concorrenza. . Per quanto riguarda il controllo delle concentration da parte del consiglio della concorrenza, esso è solo limitato poiché il suo ruolo qui è solo consultivo.Questo modello è simile al vecchio modello di giustizia conservata, una fase storica della giustizia amministrativa in cui il giudice non poteva decidere lui stesso la controversy, ma si limitava a proporre una decisione del tribunale al governo. Questo controllo è quindi poco rigoroso. In secondo luogo, È essenziale notare che il controllo europeo delle concentration da parte della Commissione persegue un duplice obiettivo: l’integrazione dei mercati e la tutela della concorrenza. Ne deriva una certa ambiguità di controllo, poiché la Commissione attributisce il primato all’obiettivo dell’integrazione del mercato.

18. – This last element unquestionably reveals that the legal sources of the concentration are supplemented by economic and managerial causes.

B/ The economic and managerial causes of the banking concentration process

19. – Competition leads to increased competition between credit institutions, which leads to numerous concentrations. Thus, for example, competition in the retail banking business tends to reduce margins and leads players to seek to increase the products distributed: savings products, insurance, etc. Access to these activities requires a matching strategy. Concentrations have therefore been initiated, particularly with insurance companies. Moreover, this competition must increasingly also be exercised against non-bank players. Let us quote the insurance companies which entered in force in the banking sector, in particular by the repurchase of investment banks. In addition, companies in the distribution sector have also entered the banking market.

From an economic point of view, the growth in the size of companies is almost the only answer to the needs of this new competition. We are therefore witnessing the globalization of the banking system and a strengthening of power and ownership in the hands of a minority. Economic power is concentrated under the guise of creating value. This race for size seems inevitable because of the criteria of profitability.

20. – Indeed, the concentration is likely to lead to the achievement of synergies and complementarities between the related entities. These synergies include both those relating to the businesses and those relating to the distribution system itself. The first can come either from the complementarity of customer and/or product portfolios, or from the pooling of central services, logistical means, but also back-offices or know-how. The seconds can, for example, materialize by completing a local network by extension. From then on, emphasis was placed on the advantages conferred by large size: easy financing, economies of scale, economies of scope, productivity gains, risky investment opportunities.

21. – Tuttavia, questi vantaggi devono essere ridimensionati nel sistema bancario perché non è dimostrato che esista una relazione tra la dimensione di un istituto di credito e la sua redditività, se non nel retail banking, soprattutto più che i costi sono molto diversi da una banca all’altra. Così, il confronto della lista delle prime 100 banche mondiali con quella delle 100 più redditizie, sembra dimostrare l’inesistenza di una relazione tra la dimensione e l’efficienza visto che solo 9 banche della prima lista compaiono sulla seconda. Il professor Alain Buzelay riconosce l’esistenza di una correlazione molto debolmente positiva tra le dimensioni delle organizzazioni bancarie e la loro redditività. Il lavoro di Alfred Steinherr mostra addirittura una correlazione negativa per le maggiori banche in almeno sei Stati membri. La “dimensione ottimale” dipende dal commercio, dalla struttura dei costi e dal potere di mercato che conferisce. Alcune professioni sono effettivamente esercitate a livello dipartimentale e regionale. Altri sono redditizi solo a livello nazionale, altri infine devono essere schierati a livello internazionale. Pertanto, i vantaggi economici di queste strategie sono, ad oggi, ampiamente dibattuti: l’effetto dimensione non ha necessariamente portato maggiori economie di scala o diversificazione del rischio. In alcuni casi, lo sviluppo incontrollato dell’attività ha comportato anche un notevole accumulo di rischi; l’importanza dei fondi propri e la loro remunerazione possono aver posto problemi di riutilizzo che possono aver incoraggiato le banche a sviluppare strategie di arbitraggio prudenziale. Finalmente, Altri sono redditizi solo a livello nazionale, altri infine devono essere schierati a livello internazionale. Pertanto, i vantaggi economici di queste strategie sono, ad oggi, ampiamente dibattuti: l’effetto dimensione non ha necessariamente portato maggiori economie di scala o diversificazione del rischio. In alcuni casi, lo sviluppo incontrollato dell’attività ha comportato anche un notevole accumulo di rischi; l’importanza dei fondi propri e la loro remunerazione possono aver posto problemi di riutilizzo che possono aver incoraggiato le banche a sviluppare strategie di arbitraggio prudenziale. Infine, altri sono redditizi solo a livello nazionale, altri infine devono essere schierati a livello internazionale. Pertanto, i vantaggi economici di queste strategie sono, ad oggi, molto dibattuti a livello globale: l’effetto dimensionale non ha necessariamente comportato maggiori economie di scala o diversificazione del rischio. In alcuni casi, lo sviluppo incontrollato dell’attività ha comportato anche un notevole accumulo di rischi; l’importanza dei fondi propri e la loro remunerazione possono aver posto problemi di riutilizzo che possono aver incoraggiato le banche a sviluppare strategie di arbitraggio prudenziale. Infine, lo sviluppo incontrollato dell’attività ha comportato anche un notevole accumulo di rischi; l’importanza dei fondi propri e la loro remunerazione possono aver posto problemi di riutilizzo che possono aver incoraggiato le banche a sviluppare strategie di arbitraggio prudenziale. Finalmente, lo sviluppo incontrollato dell’attività ha comportato anche un notevole accumulo di rischi; l’importanza dei fondi propri e la loro remunerazione possono aver posto problemi di riutilizzo che possono aver incoraggiato le banche a sviluppare strategie di arbitraggio prudenziale. Finalmente,

22. – L’accelerazione del processo di concentrazione bancaria in Europa si spiega dunque con la concomitanza di diversi altri fenomeni.

23. – In primo luogo, c’è la sovraccapacità bancaria, che è una delle cause della concentrazione. Correlativamente, non sembra esserci più spazio per una nuova rete bancaria né in Francia né nell’Unione Europea, in particolare a causa dell’altissimo tasso bancario. Questo lascia poco spazio ai nuovi arrivati. Si tratta, quindi, di acquistare reti di sportelli e banche di una certa dimensione già insediate sui mercati. La spiegazione delle concentrazioni attraverso la ricerca del potere di mercato costituisce quindi un’ipotesi di lavoro molto più fruttuosa. Le banche si concentrano perché vogliono difendere o addirittura ampliare le loro posizioni sul mercato interno contro concorrenti nazionali che si stanno concentrando, ma anche contro potenziali concorrenti esteri.

24. – Ensuite, les concentrations apparaissent souvent comme un moyen au service de la mise en œuvre d’une stratégie permettant d’atteindre l’objectif à la mode. En effet, on peut s’interroger sur le caractère mimétique de certaines de ces opérations, dans la mesure où des effets pervers sont apparus par le passé pour contredire, au moins dans un certain nombre de cas, les bénéfices économiques de stratégies couramment appliquées à la fois par majorité des acteurs du secteur. Par exemple, les stratégies commerciales des banques ont été marquées, dans les années 1980, par une course à la taille des bilans. Au cours des années 1990, le montant des capitaux d’abord, puis leur rendement, sont devenus les nouveaux critères de développement. Enfin aujourd’hui,

Le système bancaire présente ainsi parfois un fonctionnement concurrentiel consensuel et, dans certains cas, oligopolistique, où les principaux acteurs sont dans l’ensemble assez peu différenciés. Elle apparaît donc souvent sensible à une modification de l’environnement concurrentiel local, qui peut alors être perçue comme une modification des règles du jeu, à laquelle il faut répondre soit en s’y conformant, soit en changeant à nouveau ces règles soi-même. . Par conséquent, de nombreuses opérations de consolidation peuvent être déclenchées par un effet d’imitation de fusion initié par un concurrent. Au niveau européen, le mimétisme semble également perceptible. En effet, l’européanisation de plusieurs banques est motivée par le fait que leurs principaux concurrents s’installent en Europe.

25. – L’accélération des opérations de consolidation peut aussi résulter d’une réaction défensive de certains acteurs face aux initiatives des concurrents. Ces comportements micro-économiques, appelés « équilibre de Nash » en théorie des jeux, conduisent un agent à adopter la réponse qu’il juge la plus crédible à la stratégie de son concurrent pour maintenir ou préserver sa position. A cet égard, certains rapprochements du système bancaire réalisés récemment en Europe semblent avoir été initiés davantage en réponse à une modification des équilibres existants que dans la perspective d’atteindre un objectif initial fort.

26. – Les comportements mimétiques, comme les stratégies réactives, ont leur propre rationalité économique, mais qui n’est pas nécessairement fondée sur la création de valeur : dans le premier cas, la réduction des asymétries d’information entre concurrents sur le marché. un ensemble assez homogène, comme c’est le cas dans le système bancaire, peut les inciter à des réactions de type mimétique ; dans le second cas, c’est surtout la crédibilité de la réaction qui prime.

27. – La course à la concentration s’explique aussi par la volonté des dirigeants des banques d’être des « prédateurs » plutôt que de risquer de devenir la cible d’une OPA inamicale. De ce point de vue, la taille moyenne des banques françaises révèle le risque de rachat par de plus grands établissements étrangers. Il faut noter que la recherche de puissance est en elle-même un facteur de concentration non négligeable. Par exemple, en 1999, la bataille boursière entre la BNP et la Société Générale a démontré qu’au-delà des raisons économiques, se posaient aussi des questions de prééminence des individus et de prestige des équipes dirigeantes.

28. – Par ailleurs, les pressions actionnariales jouent également un rôle déterminant dans les concentrations bancaires. Celles-ci apparaissent comme une réponse à la demande de rendement pour les actionnaires. En effet, l’importance croissante des investisseurs institutionnels dans le capital des établissements de crédit conduit naturellement les dirigeants de ces derniers à orienter leurs objectifs de gestion vers la valeur actionnariale. Les objectifs de rentabilité demandés atteignent le taux de rentabilité des fonds propres de 15%. Face à cette pression actionnariale exigeante, les banques cherchent d’abord à y répondre en s’efforçant de développer leur performance interne et en accélérant leur croissance. Mais la marge potentielle de croissance interne atteint rapidement ses limites : en effet, les gains de productivité moyens oscillent généralement entre 2 et 5 % par an ; quant à la croissance globale des activités, il est d’environ 3 % par an sur le marché intérieur. Le maintien d’un taux de rendement supérieur à 10 % nécessite donc le recours à la croissance externe.

29. – Par ailleurs, le marché unique et l’introduction de l’euro s’avèrent décisifs dans la métamorphose du secteur. Ils ont transformé les marchés nationaux en un marché paneuropéen. Ainsi, la Commission européenne a estimé que : « (…) l’euro ferait sans doute sentir ses effets dans un grand nombre de secteurs, notamment les services financiers (…) ». En définitive, l’avènement de l’euro a fait office de détonateur avec encore plus de force que ne l’avaient prévu les spécialistes. Cela élimine le risque de taux de change au sein de la zone euro. De plus, il assure une monnaie commune pour la gestion d’actifs. Enfin, les frais prélevés par les établissements de crédit sont également exprimés dans la même devise partout en Europe. L’homogénéisation des produits et la transparence des prix sont donc encouragées. Cette concurrence accrue contribue à l’écrasement des marges sur certaines activités. Cela incite les banques à rechercher plus de volume, et donc des parts de marché plus élevées.

30. – Par ailleurs, grâce à la croissance des marchés financiers, des capacités et des opportunités d’acquisition ont été générées. La situation internationale s’est améliorée et a été marquée par une reprise de la croissance et des taux d’intérêt relativement bas, malgré une hausse récente. Cet environnement a profité aux marchés boursiers, ce qui a pu contribuer à accélérer le processus de consolidation bancaire à plusieurs égards :

– par la création de capacités d’acquisition du fait des fortes hausses de valorisation de certains établissements,

– en déclenchant des acquisitions précoces de cibles dans le but de minimiser le coût de la restructuration en vue d’une revalorisation croissante du système bancaire, – par des opportunités d’investissement bon marché grâce à l’abondance des ressources de marché, voire internes.

31. – Finally, mergers are part of a context of increasing globalization of financial markets and technological progress linked to the development of new channels of distance marketing and negotiation. There are indeed high-tech sectors which are globalized from the outset: electronic components, IT, aeronautics. Some more traditional sectors are in the process of globalisation: the automobile industry, the tire industry, as many client companies that the banks must support in their race to global size if they wish not to lose them. As for the financial industry itself, it is becoming global, as activity on the financial markets can only be considered on a global scale. It is certain that globalization constitutes a factor of concentration. Initially, national operators are concentrating. In a second period, they are concentrated at European level. Finally, in a third step, they should focus globally. National rivers should flow into a European river and then into a global banking and financial ocean. However, the current situation seems stuck between the first phase and the second.

II/ The contemporary situation of the movement of banking concentration

32. – A movement of concentration of the banking systems of all the States of Europe can be noted (A). As regards the movement of cross-border concentration, this is having difficulty developing (B).

A/ The movement towards concentration of banking systems in the States of Europe

33. – It seems that the concentration process got off to a moderate start in France.

34. – D’une part, comme nous l’avons déjà précisé, il existe encore de nombreuses lois en droit bancaire français. Cela limite théoriquement la concentration des banques mutualistes. Ainsi, la règle selon laquelle ils ne peuvent payer en titres, notamment l’acquisition d’autres établissements, continue de s’appliquer. Cela pénalise le développement du secteur mutualiste qui, paradoxalement, a pourtant réussi à se concentrer. A noter la concentration du Crédit Agricole avec Indosuez ainsi que Sofinco, la concentration entre Banque Populaire et Natexis, ainsi que le rachat du CIC par le Crédit Mutuel. Cependant, le risque demeure pour le secteur mutualiste de ne pas réussir à acquérir une dimension européenne.

35. – En revanche, les banques françaises, malgré l’amélioration de leurs résultats, due en grande partie à l’amélioration de la situation économique, souffrent toujours de l’insuffisance des bénéfices de leur activité domestique, comme en témoigne leur relative faiblesse en termes de rentabilité des fonds propres à l’échelle internationale. Cela tient peut-être aussi à la gestion de la catastrophe du Crédit Lyonnais et à toute une série de faillites de banques ou d’entreprises de moindre importance qui ont fait peser une charge très lourde sur la collectivité publique et les grands groupes privés qui se retrouvent considérablement fragilisés. Le groupe Suez et la société Paribas, par exemple, ont dû digérer les abus qu’ils avaient provoqués dans le domaine de l’immobilier. Les banques de dépôt traditionnelles, comme la BNP ou la Société Générale, ont également dû faire face aux erreurs qu’ils avaient commises en prêtant aux petites et moyennes entreprises. Cela plaçait la France, au regard de la concentration du système bancaire, dans une position médiane par rapport aux autres États membres de l’Union européenne.

36. – Cependant, entre le 01/01/1987 et le 31/12/2001, le nombre total d’établissements de crédit implantés en France a néanmoins sensiblement diminué, passant de 2152 en 1987 à 1837 en 1991, à 1608 en 1994, à 1209 en 1998, à 1085 en 2000, à 1035 en 2001 et à 975 en 2002. La baisse a été de 5% en 1998 et 2000 et, en quatorze ans, de 51,9%. Toutes les catégories d’établissements sont concernées par ce changement. Ainsi, le nombre de banques AFB est passé de 412 en 1991 à 386 fin 1997 et 359 fin 1998. Cette « réduction régulière, à partir de 1988, et qui se poursuit actuellement (…) se traduit notamment (…) groupes d’établissements ». En effet, de 1985 à 1998, 1277 opérations de fusion ont été enregistrées et plus de 900 rachats par de nouveaux actionnaires.

37. – Pour faire face à la montée de la concurrence et à la baisse des marges, les réseaux ont engagé des programmes de rationalisation visant à créer des entités de taille suffisante. Cette recherche d’une masse critique a conduit les groupes mutualistes à procéder à de nombreuses fusions entre entités affiliées.
L’action la plus notable est celle menée par le groupe Caisses d’Epargne et de Prévoyance. Bénéficiant, avec la Caisse Nationale d’Epargne, du monopole du livret A et étant étroitement spécialisées dans les crédits à l’habitat et aux collectivités, elles n’avaient pas ressenti le besoin d’adapter leur organisation. Encore au nombre de 468 fin 1984, ils n’avaient, pour la plupart, qu’un rayon d’action limité à une ville et quelques communes voisines. Ils adoptent alors un plan de regroupement qui, par étapes successives, réduit leur nombre à 186 en 1990, à 35 en 1993 puis à 34 en 2000.

Les autres réseaux ont mené une action similaire, mais de manière plus progressive. Par exemple, le groupe Crédit Agricole, qui comptait encore 95 caisses régionales en 1987, a réduit leur nombre, par fusions successives, à 90 en 1990, puis à 74 en 1993, à 59 en 1996, à 54 en 1999, 51 en 2001 et 43 en 2003.

De même, le groupe Banques Populaires, qui comptait en 1984 42 Banques Populaires, a réduit leur nombre à 32 en 1992 puis à 25 en 2002.

De même, le Crédit Mutuel a réduit le nombre de ses agences de 40 à 26. Enfin, le groupe des Sociétés anonymes de crédit immobilier a entrepris durant cette période une rationalisation de ses structures, réduisant ses effectifs de 171 en 1984 à 103 en 1999, 87 en 2001 et 59 en 2004.

38. – Parallèlement à ces opérations de fusion au sein des groupes bancaires, des opérations de concentration de grande ampleur ont eu lieu. Un big bang s’est produit, mais il n’est pas encore complet car le mouvement de concentration est en cours. Les opérateurs économiques deviennent de plus en plus puissants et cela a pour conséquence que chacun doit se renforcer, n’ayant d’autre choix que de bénéficier de l’égalité des armes. On peut citer la fusion Indosuez/Crédit Agricole en 1996 ; en 1997, les opérations Crédit du Nord/Société Générale et Natexis/Banques Populaires ; la reprise du CIC par le Crédit Mutuel et de la Société Marseillaise de Crédit par le CCF en 1998. En 1999, la plus importante offre bancaire publique en France donne naissance à BNP-Paribas. Par ailleurs, la Caisse Nationale du Crédit Agricole a acquis 70% du spécialiste du crédit à la consommation Sofinco. Le Groupe Caisses d’Epargne a racheté le Crédit Foncier de France et l’actionnariat de DEXIA a été réorganisé sous l’égide de la holding belge du groupe. En 2000, le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs se concentre avec la Banque La Hénin. En 2001, la Banque Hervet est rachetée par le CCF, tandis que la Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations et Ecureuil apportent l’essentiel de leurs activités à la société financière Eulia, afin de créer la troisième place bancaire française. Cela a sans doute renforcé la concentration du système bancaire français. En 2002, Axa Banque rachète Banque Directe, le groupe Crédit Coopératif est intégré au groupe Banques Populaires, Cetelem rachète Facet et le Crédit Agricole gagne Finaref. En 2003, le Crédit Agricole prend le contrôle du Crédit Lyonnais. Enfin, en 2004, le Crédit Foncier de France acquiert Entenial,

39. – Mais alors que le mouvement de concentration s’accélère dans de nombreux pays européens, les Français commencent à prendre conscience de leur retard. Les pouvoirs financiers nationaux sont devenus dérisoires. L’exemple de la Société Générale, grande banque française, est révélateur. Il détient 7 % du marché français de la banque de détail. Or, compte tenu du fait que la France pèse 17 à 20 % du marché européen, cela signifie qu’elle représente environ 1,3 à 1,4 % de ce marché. Il s’agit probablement d’une partie insuffisante qui ne peut garantir son existence à long terme. De plus, le nouveau groupe, né de la concentration entre BNP et Paribas, devenu le « champion national », n’est pas un groupe optimal.

Les banques françaises doivent donc croître pour concurrencer la concurrence européenne, faute de quoi elles seront rachetées par des établissements étrangers comme le CCF, passé sous pavillon anglais, suite à une offre publique lancée par le groupe HSBC le 04/01/2000. En effet, les banques britanniques sont bien plus puissantes que les françaises, notamment grâce aux nombreuses fusions qui ont eu lieu ces dernières années. Il s’agit notamment des opérations Lloyds TSB/Scottish Widdows, Natwest/Legal and General, Barclays/Woolwich et Bank of Scotland/Halifax. La plus spectaculaire est certainement l’offre publique de Royal Bank of Scotland sur Natwest. Une bataille épique contre la Bank of Scotland a été lancée pour le contrôle. C’est finalement Royal Bank of Scotland qui l’a emporté grâce à l’aide de son premier actionnaire :

En Espagne, un phénomène de concentration en cascade s’est également produit. Ce sont d’abord Banco de Bilbao et Banco Vizcaya qui ont fusionné en 1988 pour créer BBV. Puis en 1991, Banco Hispano Americano a été absorbée par Banco Central. Peu de temps après, Banco Santander a racheté le Banesto en difficulté. De même, cinq établissements publics ont fusionné pour former la Banque Argentaria. Enfin, plus récemment, Banco Santander et Banco Central Hispano se sont rapprochés. Depuis, BSCH a fortement consolidé sa position de premier groupe bancaire ibérique. Sa capitalisation boursière a augmenté de 55% à 40 milliards d’euros et son total de bilan, de 240,5 milliards d’euros, représente plus de 23% des actifs bancaires du pays. Enfin, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya et Argentaria ont fusionné pour donner naissance à BBVA le 01/01/2000. Ce processus s’accélère également au Portugal. En 2000, Banco Commercial Portugues est passé à l’offensive en fusionnant avec Banco Mello et Banco Pinto e Sotto Mayor. De même, Banco Espirito Santo et Banco Portugues di Investimento se sont concentrées. Cette opération a ainsi marqué la naissance du premier groupe bancaire portugais avec 40,484 milliards d’euros d’actifs.

Anche in Italia il sistema bancario sta vivendo da diversi anni un periodo di accelerata ristrutturazione, che gli ha permesso di rafforzarsi. Così, nel 1998, la banca Abrovenento acquisisce Cariplo, costituendo la banca Intesa e, nel 1999, Intesa rileva Comit. Inoltre, le fusioni San Paolo/IMI, ma anche Credito Italiano/Unicredito, San Paolo/Cardine, Banca Popolare di Verona/Banca Popolare di Novara, Banca Popolare Bergamo/Crédito Varesino/Banca Popolare Commercio Industria e infine Capitalia/Bipope Carire potrebbero essere citato. La performance finanziaria delle banche italiane è nettamente migliorata e cominciano ad emergere veri campioni nazionali, capaci di svolgere un ruolo attivo nel concerto delle banche europee.

In Belgio si sono susseguite le acquisizioni di Banque Indosuez Belgique da parte di CERA e Banque Paribas Belgique da parte di Bacob. Più fondamentalmente, possiamo notare in particolare l’integrazione di Générale de Banque nel gruppo Fortis. Questa operazione è accompagnata da un riavvicinamento con il CGER che assume il controllo dello SNCI.

Per quanto riguarda la ridistribuzione bancaria nei Paesi Bassi, ha dato vita a tre giganti ABN AMRO, Rabobank e ING, dall’inizio degli anni 90. Questi primi tre istituti di credito detengono il 90% del mercato bancario olandese. Questa forte quota di mercato nazionale e questi dieci anni di anticipo hanno consentito ai gruppi olandesi di assumere posizioni significative a livello internazionale. Dopo l’acquisizione nell’agosto 1999 della banca tedesca BHF, ING ha una presenza significativa in cinque paesi europei. Anche lui desiderava il CCF, ma fu un fallimento. Nel dicembre 1999 è stata lanciata un’offerta pubblica di acquisto a 137,5 euro per azione, ma subito ritirata. Alcuni avevano affermato che la rottura era definitivamente consumata, ma un saggio osservatore ci aveva confermato che i colloqui tra le due banche non si erano definitivamente interrotti. Patrick Dupray ha anche stimato che ING dovrebbe “tornare alla carica nei prossimi mesi”. Gli eventi gli hanno dato ragione, poiché il 16/03/2000 si è verificato un nuovo colpo di scena. Il presidente di ING ha approfittato della presentazione dei risultati annuali per lanciare un ultimatum a Charles de Croisset. Tuttavia, il 04/01/2000, in base ad accordi rapidi e segreti, HSBC si è rivelato offrire agli azionisti di CCF un prezzo superiore del 9% a quello di ING, che è stata costretta a cedere. Il presidente di ING ha approfittato della presentazione dei risultati annuali per lanciare un ultimatum a Charles de Croisset. Tuttavia, in data 01/04/2000, in base ad accordi rapidi e segreti, Si è scoperto che HSBC offriva agli azionisti di CCF un prezzo superiore del 9% rispetto a ING, che è stata costretta a inchinarsi. Il presidente di ING ha approfittato della presentazione dei risultati annuali per lanciare un ultimatum a Charles de Croisset. Tuttavia, il 04/01/2000, in base ad accordi rapidi e segreti, HSBC si è rivelato offrire agli azionisti di CCF un prezzo superiore del 9% a quello di ING, che è stata costretta a cedere.

De plus, les banques allemandes, à la traîne dans la course à la concentration, semblent déterminées à rattraper leur retard. On peut citer les fusions entre Hypo Bank et Vereinsbank et entre Bankgesellchaft Berlin et Nordeutsche/LB. Les trois principales banques publiques régionales du Bade-Wurtemberg ont fusionné pour créer la Landesbank Baden Württemberg. En outre, il convient de se référer à l’annonce du projet de fusion entre Deutsche Bank et Dresdner Bank le 08/03/2000. Ce regroupement aurait donné naissance à la première banque mondiale avec 1 200 milliards d’euros d’actifs sous gestion. Cependant, suite à de nombreux différends, notamment concernant l’intégration dans la Deutsche Bank de Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, la banque d’investissement de Dresdner, la fusion a été abandonnée. C’est finalement Allianz qui rachète la Dresdner Bank en 2001 et donne naissance à un empire financier. Enfin, il faut mentionner la fusion DGBank et GZ-Bank ainsi que la fusion d’Eurohypo, DeutscheHyp et Rheinhyp.

Enfin, le Danemark a connu une vague de fusions à la fin des années 1980 avec les fusions de Copenhagen Handelsbank/ Den Danske Bank/ Provinsbanken, Privatbanken/ Sparekassen SDS/ Andelsbanken et Sydbank/ Sparekassen Sydiylland.

40. – Les concentrations bancaires nationales se sont donc indéniablement multipliées ces dernières années. En ce qui concerne les concentrations transfrontalières, le tableau est plus nuancé.

B/ Le mouvement relatif de concentration bancaire transfrontalière

41. – Les regroupements se sont, jusqu’à présent, principalement opérés au sein des marchés nationaux dans le but de consolider les positions et de constituer de vastes pôles nationaux dans les zones considérées par les intéressés comme les plus rémunératrices en fonction des spécificités locales. Ainsi, bien que le mouvement de concentration soit évident, les fusions bancaires transfrontalières, contrairement à ce qui est observable dans le secteur, sont assez rares.

Parallèlement à la constitution de grands groupes nationaux, seules quelques opérations transfrontalières ont eu lieu. Les transactions sortant du cadre national concernaient principalement les pays voisins comme Merita/ Nordbanken en Finlande et en Suède, Merita Nordbanken/ Unidanmark entre la Finlande, la Suède et le Danemark, Merita Nordbanken/ Christiana en Finlande, en Suède et en Norvège. Citons également les opérations Hypo Vereinsbank/ Bank Austria entre l’Allemagne et l’Autriche, Cera/ Kredietbank et ING/ BBL aux Pays-Bas et en Belgique, ING/ BHF Bank, ABN Amro/ Delbrück, ING/ Entrium et ABN Amro / BethmannMaffei aux Pays-Bas et Allemagne, Crédit local de France/ Crédit communal de Belgique pour former Dexia. Ce dernier s’est ensuite concentré, en 2001, avec le belge Artésia Banking Corp et le néerlandais Kempen. Il faut également citer les fusions entre BSCH et une partie du groupe Champalimaud en Espagne et au Portugal, et enfin les opérations franco-britanniques HSBC/CCF et Egg/Zebank. A noter enfin qu’en 2004, l’Espagnol Santander rachète le britannique Abbey National. Cette opération constitue une véritable concentration d’échelle paneuropéenne dans la banque de détail. Le mouvement transfrontalier de ces acteurs s’explique notamment par l’absence de cibles domestiques alternatives. Cette opération constitue une véritable concentration d’échelle paneuropéenne dans la banque de détail. Le mouvement transfrontalier de ces acteurs s’explique notamment par l’absence de cibles domestiques alternatives. Cette opération constitue une véritable concentration d’échelle paneuropéenne dans la banque de détail.

42. – Les différences de culture, d’éloignement géographique, de langue rendent plus difficile la mutualisation des ressources et notamment des back-offices. Les synergies émergent moins facilement sur le plan commercial, notamment en raison de la difficulté supplémentaire d’homogénéiser des marques géographiquement dissociées. Mais selon nous, la difficulté fondamentale réside dans les disparités des réglementations ainsi que dans les protections dont bénéficient les activités des banques, comme l’ont souligné des exemples récents. En effet, les autorités norvégiennes, par exemple, ont longtemps refusé l’offre de Merita-Nordbanken sur Christiania avant de donner leur accord. Les autorités portugaises se sont également opposées au rachat du groupe BPSM-MC par BSCH et l’intervention de la Commission européenne a été nécessaire pour permettre un déblocage partiel. Ce dernier cas est exemplaire. En soutenant cette opération,

43. – En principe, il est donc désormais impossible de s’opposer aux concentrations bancaires initiées par les opérateurs européens. Cela serait contraire aux principes du marché bancaire unique et au droit communautaire de la concurrence. Mais il est pertinent de noter que la protection du droit à la concentration transfrontalière, par Bruxelles, n’est pas suffisante pour rendre ce droit effectif. En effet, il existe de nombreux autres obstacles qui proviennent du manque d’harmonisation européenne des lois, de la fiscalité et de la comptabilité. On sera donc amené à s’interroger sur une éventuelle harmonisation européenne. Une directive sur les aspects juridiques des fusions entre sociétés d’Etats membres différents est toujours en préparation, tandis que la directive CEE du 23/07/1990, relative au régime fiscal de ces mêmes fusions, a été transposée en droit français. Cette absence de régulation justifie en partie la préférence pour les opérations nationales, outre le fait que les opérateurs économiques privilégient d’abord le renforcement de leur territoire national avant d’avoir une politique de croissance internationale. La tendance à la concentration transfrontalière ne peut s’épanouir que dans la mesure où la réglementation applicable à ces concentrations est parfaitement connue. outre le fait que les opérateurs économiques privilégient d’abord leur renforcement sur leur territoire national avant d’avoir une politique de croissance internationale. La tendance à la concentration transfrontalière ne peut s’épanouir que dans la mesure où la réglementation applicable à ces concentrations est parfaitement connue. outre le fait que les opérateurs économiques privilégient d’abord leur renforcement sur leur territoire national avant d’avoir une politique de croissance internationale. La tendance à la concentration transfrontalière ne peut s’épanouir que dans la mesure où la réglementation applicable à ces concentrations est parfaitement connue.

44. – European banks will have to merge and the legal system will have to offer them the means to do so, “it is a question of rationality”. Consequently, the consolidation of national banking systems, the harmonization of rules of law and the control of concentrations should constitute a prerequisite for profound transformations at European level.

45. – Selon la Fédération bancaire européenne, 2 955 banques commerciales sont présentes en Europe occidentale avec un total d’actifs de 9 144 milliards d’euros, opérant à travers 99 456 agences et succursales et employant 1,84 million d’employés. En France, le poids économique du système bancaire est également considérable et décisif. Elle emploie 423 798 personnes, traite 3,4 milliards d’euros de paiements par chèques, cartes ou virements et gère l’essentiel des crédits à l’économie, soit 1 176,7 milliards d’euros. L’équilibre de cet édifice et sa stabilité à moyen terme seront nécessairement bouleversés avec à la clef une redistribution des parts de marché et une recomposition des forces en présence qui se traduira par un nombre beaucoup plus réduit d’entités en Europe. Les chiffres sont révélateurs. Il y avait 12 500 établissements bancaires en Europe en 1990. Il n’en restait plus que 8 000 en 2000. En 1998 et 1999, 188 opérations en capital ont concerné des banques européennes. Le montant des actifs qui ont été échangés fonde la thèse que ces opérations sont de plus en plus colossales. Ainsi, le nombre de fusions et acquisitions de plus de 500 millions de francs, concernant des banques européennes, est passé de 54 en 1994 à 98 en 1998. En 1994, 109 milliards de francs ont fait l’objet d’échanges contre 710 milliards de francs en 1998 et 923 milliards de francs en 1999. Cette course à la taille et aux parts de marché menace de déstabiliser le système bancaire et financier. De plus, cette évolution augmentera considérablement les risques de monopolisation et de cartellisation. Le phénomène appelle en réponse à un renforcement du système assurant la stabilité du système bancaire et financier, mais aussi une accentuation du contrôle des autorités chargées de surveiller la concurrence sur le marché. Il faut donc rechercher la méthode préférée pour tenter de proposer une régulation de ce mouvement.

III/ Méthodologie pour une nouvelle approche des concentrations bancaires

46. ​​– L’approche adoptée doit être juridique (A), mais il convient d’aller au-delà de cette vision monodisciplinaire grâce à une analyse interdisciplinaire (B).

A/ Comprendre le processus de concentration bancaire par la loi

47. – L’élément essentiel des concentrations bancaires réside dans leur particularité. La principale raison de cette situation tient au fait que le système bancaire est spécifique car il est dépositaire de fonds appartenant à autrui, notamment sous forme de dépôts à restituer ultérieurement. C’est le principal détenteur de liquidités mais aussi le principal fournisseur de services de paiement d’où proviennent la quasi-totalité des transactions réalisées dans l’économie. Enfin, c’est de lui que dépendent réellement le bon fonctionnement et l’efficacité de l’économie, à travers le processus d’intermédiation financière. Ainsi, c’est un élément vital de presque toutes les transactions économiques.

48. – La loi a donc notamment pour objet de prévenir le risque systémique propre au système bancaire. Cela génère un traitement juridique spécifique des concentrations bancaires. Cette spécificité se traduit par un contrôle plus approfondi que celui appliqué aux autres secteurs économiques. Ce contrôle supplémentaire est régi par le droit bancaire.

49. – Un régime d’autorisation préalable des concentrations bancaires est organisé par l’article L. 611-1 du code monétaire et financier. Ce dernier habilite le ministre chargé de l’économie à fixer les conditions dans lesquelles des participations directes ou indirectes peuvent être prises, étendues ou transférées dans des établissements de crédit et les conditions permettant à ces établissements de prendre des participations. Le règlement n° 96-16 du 20/12/1996 du Comité de la Réglementation Bancaire et Financière a ainsi prévu l’autorisation préalable de toute modification majeure dans la composition des apporteurs de capitaux afin d’assurer la solidité financière de l’entreprise.

50. – Par ailleurs, la spécificité de l’appréhension juridique des concentrations bancaires est matérialisée par la délicate coordination, voire les conflits entre, d’une part, le droit des sociétés, le droit boursier et, d’autre part, le droit bancaire. Les fusions bancaires ne remettent pas seulement en cause ces trois droits particuliers. Elles entraînent également la rencontre de ces branches avec le droit commun, inévitable dans l’ordre juridique français où les droits spéciaux ne peuvent totalement chasser le droit privé fondamental.

51. – Par exemple, un conflit entre le droit bancaire et le droit des contrats ne peut être évité. En effet, sur la base du droit des contrats, les parties sont libres d’acquérir et de vendre leurs parts dans une société. Toutefois, le CECEI soumet l’autorisation de prise de participation dans une banque à un accord entre les banques.

52. – De même, le conflit entre le droit des sociétés et le droit bancaire est manifeste. En effet, le droit des sociétés définit la notion de contrôle d’une société. Toutefois, le droit bancaire ne renvoie pas à la définition de l’article L. 233-3 du Code de commerce.

53. – Enfin, le conflit entre le droit bancaire et le droit boursier est évident. L’opération est soumise au contrôle de la loi bancaire, qui assure le bon fonctionnement du système bancaire et la sécurité des clients. Il prévoit notamment les conditions d’autorisation des prises de participation dans les banques. Le droit boursier, quant à lui, agit en faveur du bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers. Il prévoit les conditions de recevabilité des offres publiques et leur déroulement. La rencontre de ces deux droits engendre un conflit de droits spéciaux.

54. – Ainsi, le problème majeur est celui de l’articulation des différentes branches du droit. En effet, la mise en œuvre du droit bancaire s’oppose à de nombreuses règles juridiques issues d’autres branches du droit. Le droit applicable aux concentrations bancaires révèle donc un certain nombre d’incertitudes qui ont été en partie levées par le législateur ou qu’il convient de lever.

55. – En définitive, la spécificité bancaire implique une adaptation de la loi. Dès lors, il serait pertinent de s’interroger sur l’émergence d’un droit de la concentration bancaire. Cependant, cet exercice est délicat pour deux raisons. D’une part, le droit applicable aux concentrations bancaires n’est spécifique qu’occasionnellement. Plus précisément, il semble que dans certains cas, la spécificité bancaire soit prise en compte dans le droit de la fusion, alors que dans d’autres cas, le droit « commun » de la fusion s’applique pleinement. D’autre part, les bases de ce système sont dispersées dans plusieurs branches du droit. En effet, la concentration bancaire présente autant d’expressions qu’elle concerne de disciplines. Cependant, les disciplines juridiques concernées sont nombreuses : droit des contrats, droit des sociétés, droit des privatisations, droit bancaire, droit des marchés financiers, droit de la concurrence, droit des valeurs mobilières et droit du travail. La dynamique imposée par la concentration bancaire cristallise les orientations constituant l’ossature de ce régime juridique. En l’absence d’un régime juridique exhaustif, il puise dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs de son propre régime. Cela suppose un ensemble de règles et de contrôles empruntés aux disciplines juridiques concernées, mais aussi un mode de résolution adapté aux conflits nés du choc des multiples dispositions en présence. La dynamique imposée par la concentration bancaire cristallise les orientations constituant l’ossature de ce régime juridique. En l’absence d’un régime juridique exhaustif, il puise dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs de son propre régime. Cela suppose un ensemble de règles et de contrôles empruntés aux disciplines juridiques concernées, mais aussi un mode de résolution adapté aux conflits nés du choc des multiples dispositions en présence. La dynamique imposée par la concentration bancaire cristallise les orientations constituant l’ossature de ce régime juridique. En l’absence d’un régime juridique exhaustif, il puise dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs de son propre régime. Cela suppose un ensemble de règles et de contrôles empruntés aux disciplines juridiques concernées, mais aussi un mode de résolution adapté aux conflits nés du choc des multiples dispositions en présence. elle puise dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs de son propre régime. Cela suppose un ensemble de règles et de contrôles empruntés aux disciplines juridiques concernées, mais aussi un mode de résolution adapté aux conflits nés du choc des multiples dispositions en présence. elle puise dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs de son propre régime. Cela suppose un ensemble de règles et de contrôles empruntés aux disciplines juridiques concernées, mais aussi un mode de résolution adapté aux conflits nés du choc des multiples dispositions en présence.

56. – Atteinte à l’autonomie même relative des branches du droit, le manque de coordination entre elles, avec le droit bancaire notamment, est à l’origine de conflits qui s’avèrent difficiles à résoudre. Ainsi, la complexité des règles et contrôles régissant la réalisation des concentrations bancaires et leur appartenance à des disciplines juridiques distinctes génèrent des difficultés.

57. – The solution certainly lies in better interpenetration of the branches of law within the judicial system. This would, in our opinion, reduce the divergences between the different branches of law which have unifying objectives. Banking concentration would constitute a legal concept bridging several legal disciplines, bringing them together and going beyond their autonomy. This would allow it to be subject to a unitary legal regime. This argument militates for an interdisciplinarity internal to the law but also external.

B/ Interdisciplinary understanding of the banking concentration process

58. – The multidimensional nature of the phenomenon of banking concentration does not seem to lend itself to an analysis based on a single discipline. Thus, a legal approach to the movement implies a certain openness. It is therefore preferable to try to adopt an interdisciplinary method. This will be all the more reliable if its field of action is concretely defined.

Multidisciplinarity is topical in legal sciences. Mr. Claude Champaud affirms that “unless we persevere in a purely normative, immanent and quasi-biblical conception of law, we must consider the legal rule as the result of economic, social, political and cultural forces which are exercised at a given moment” .

Mr. Gérard Farjat, another precursor of economic law, also strongly called for reasoning based on the confrontation of several disciplines. He recommended in particular for the specialist in economic law, in addition to legal and economic approaches, the use of comparative methods. According to this author, developments in economic law are often underpinned by comparisons between formal and substantive legal structures. However, Gérard Farjat was led to point out one of the unavoidable limits of the generalist approach, the risk of knowing only superficially each notion studied without completely dominating the area covered. To avoid this pitfall, the author recommends teamwork with specialists in each discipline.

Quiconque mène une étude individuelle ne peut envisager cette possibilité. Cependant, s’il est convaincu de la nécessité d’une analyse liant les problèmes juridiques aux phénomènes sociaux et économiques sans pour autant posséder les connaissances approfondies indispensables à une véritable pluridisciplinarité, le chercheur peut alors tenter de s’engager dans la voie de l’interdisciplinarité. Dans ce cas, il s’agit d’établir un dialogue avec différentes sciences humaines d’un domaine précis – celui du droit – en soumettant l’objet étudié aux éclairages d’autres disciplines.

Il est donc éminemment nécessaire d’adopter un discours fait d’une dialectique permanente entre droit, économie, gestion et politique. C’est dans cet esprit que cette thèse sur les fusions-acquisitions bancaires sera abordée.

59. – Concrètement, il s’agira d’abord de recourir à une approche interdisciplinaire interne au droit. En effet, la liste des notions ou mécanismes juridiques auxquels renvoie la seule référence à la concentration bancaire est très longue. Ainsi, cette étude nécessite de puiser dans différentes disciplines juridiques les principes fondateurs d’un régime. Toute tentative de systématisation de ce phénomène suppose un mode d’appréhension complexe nécessitant une lecture croisée des différentes disciplines juridiques concernées.

Il en résultera une tentative de dépassement de la distinction entre droit public et droit privé. La remise en cause de cette division du droit semble féconde dans un examen du mouvement de concentration bancaire. A cette occasion, la logique « publiciste » ainsi que la logique « privatiste » doivent être prises en compte simultanément. Rappelons que le professeur Gérard Farjat assimile la loi de la concentration à la loi de la « collectivisation des biens de production et de l’organisation de l’économie par les pouvoirs publics ou privés ».

Cela conduit à une altération de la distinction entre droit public et droit privé. Traditionnellement, le droit public est le droit de l’État dans ses relations avec les citoyens. Ce qui caractérise la norme publique, c’est l’acte unilatéral symbole d’autorité, de commandement. En revanche, la société civile est fondée sur le contrat librement négocié. Cependant, force est de constater qu’il existe des sources de droit privées et mixtes qui concurrencent les sources publiques de droit.

Par exemple, les accords d’entreprise sont une source de droit privé. Dans de nombreuses concentrations, les banques trouvent des solutions par le biais d’accords sociaux sur l’emploi. Ces derniers mettent en évidence une décentralisation du droit. Ils font de l’entreprise le lieu privilégié de la production du droit. Ils permettent une adaptation, une création de règles correspondant aux besoins spécifiques de la banque lors de sa concentration. Par ailleurs, les pratiques et règles établies dans les entreprises et formalisées dans les accords ont pour effet soit d’être prises en compte et entérinées par la loi, soit de rendre certaines normes « inefficaces ».

Les sources mixtes du droit remettent également en cause la distinction traditionnelle entre droit public et droit privé. On parle ici d’autorités administratives indépendantes. Ils sont à l’intersection des pouvoirs publics et privés. Leur création permet de dépasser une contradiction entre la nécessité d’une intervention économique de l’État liée à la concentration et le principe de séparation du pouvoir politique et du pouvoir économique. La création d’autorités administratives indépendantes permet de mener une politique publique qui ne dépend pas d’un département ministériel. Ils sont le résultat de l’action de l’État et des forces du marché. Ils permettent ainsi de concilier politiques publiques et politiques de marché.

60. – It will then be necessary to apply external interdisciplinarity. The task is then delicate because the lawyer must integrate extra-legal data into his reasoning. It is a question of appealing to notions of economy, finance, management and politics.

61. – Ultimately, it will be a matter of determining whether there is a need for the law to take into consideration the economic specificity of banking activities. In other words, should banking concentrations be subject to specific legal treatment? More precisely, in which hypothesis is the law of concentration forced to take into account the banking specificity?

62. – It is therefore essential to seek the principle which justifies the intervention of provisions specific to the banking system. These constitute a source of vigor by inspiring confidence in the clientele. However, excessive or inappropriate regulation is harmful because it constitutes an obstacle to restructuring. Thus, it is important to find a compromise between the prudential rules which favor the sector by protecting the stability of its structure and the excessive provisions which are harmful to it.

63. – Our hypothesis is to demonstrate that the existence of banking specificities is only consistent when it comes to protecting the banking and financial system. Logically, when the protection of the latter is no longer concerned, the “common” merger law should fully apply. A legal consecration of banking specificity will therefore be demonstrated in the context of the protection of the banking and financial system (1st part). In line with this reasoning, a gradual decline in banking specificity may be observed in the absence of any need to protect the system (2nd part).

First part: The legal consecration of banking and financial specificity

64. – Les fusions bancaires présentent des similitudes avec les fusions réalisées dans d’autres secteurs de l’économie, mais les obstacles à la réalisation de telles opérations sont beaucoup plus nombreux et complexes. En effet, elles posent des problèmes spécifiques liés à leurs conditions institutionnelles, leurs interactions avec les enjeux de politique monétaire et les exigences prudentielles liées notamment à l’existence d’un risque systémique. Ainsi, la grande originalité des concentrations bancaires réside dans l’existence d’autorités chargées du contrôle des établissements de crédit, ce qui fait que le principe dans le secteur bancaire n’est pas la liberté totale de restructuration mais la liberté contrôlée. L’objectif principal est de contrôler la nouvelle composition de l’actionnariat,

65. – Successivamente, alcune disposizioni della legge bancaria del 24/01/1984 determinano una concentrazione in deroga al diritto societario. Infatti, nel caso in cui un istituto di credito pregiudichi la sicurezza dei depositanti, la Commission Bancaire ha la facoltà di “portare la questione al Tribunal de Grande Instance affinché (…) la vendita delle azioni detenute da uno o più de jure o azionisti di fatto. Il tribunale può anche ordinare il trasferimento di tutte le quote dello stabilimento. La vendita forzata è quindi qui uno strumento di concentrazione con l’obiettivo di tutelare l’intero sistema bancario. Certo, la possibilità di una vendita forzata di azioni può richiamare quella dell’articolo L. 621-59 del codice di commercio, che il tribunale commerciale può ordinare tale esproprio quando la sopravvivenza della società lo richiede. Ma ai sensi della legge bancaria, il trasferimento in questione può essere prescritto anche al di fuori del procedimento collettivo. Per motivi di simmetria, gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando la situazione finanziaria degli stabilimenti interessati lo giustifichi, di decidere la fusione di due o più di questi stabilimenti affiliati nonché l’intero o il trasferimento di la loro proprietà commerciale. . Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. il trasferimento in questione può essere prescritto anche al di fuori del procedimento collettivo. Per amore della simmetria, gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando lo giustifichi la situazione patrimoniale degli enti interessati, di decidere la fusione di due o più di tali enti convenzionati nonché il trasferimento totale o parziale del loro patrimonio aziendale. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. il trasferimento in questione può essere prescritto anche al di fuori del procedimento collettivo. Per motivi di simmetria, gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando la situazione finanziaria degli stabilimenti interessati lo giustifichi, di decidere la fusione di due o più di questi stabilimenti affiliati nonché l’intero o il trasferimento di la loro proprietà commerciale. . Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. il trasferimento in questione può essere prescritto anche al di fuori del procedimento collettivo. Per motivi di simmetria, gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando la situazione finanziaria degli stabilimenti interessati lo giustifichi, di decidere la fusione di due o più di questi stabilimenti affiliati nonché l’intero o il trasferimento di la loro proprietà commerciale. . Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. il trasferimento in questione può essere prescritto anche al di fuori del procedimento collettivo. Per motivi di simmetria, gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando la situazione finanziaria degli stabilimenti interessati lo giustifichi, di decidere la fusione di due o più di questi stabilimenti affiliati nonché l’intero o il trasferimento di la loro proprietà commerciale. . Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando lo giustifichi la situazione patrimoniale degli enti interessati, di decidere la fusione di due o più di tali enti convenzionati nonché il trasferimento totale o parziale del loro patrimonio aziendale. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. gli organi centrali delle reti mutualistiche e cooperative hanno anche la possibilità, quando lo giustifichi la situazione patrimoniale degli enti interessati, di decidere la fusione di due o più di tali enti convenzionati nonché il trasferimento totale o parziale del loro patrimonio aziendale. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. decidere in merito alla fusione di due o più di tali stabilimenti affiliati nonché al trasferimento totale o parziale del loro patrimonio aziendale. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci. decidere in merito alla fusione di due o più di tali stabilimenti affiliati nonché al trasferimento totale o parziale del loro patrimonio aziendale. Si tratta di fare strage di diritto societario, escludendo qualsiasi decisione dell’assemblea dei soci.

66. – La specificità bancaria e finanziaria è quindi presa in considerazione nei meccanismi di concentrazione (Titolo 1) e correlativamente gli stessi controlli appaiono specifici con l’obiettivo di tutelare il sistema bancario e finanziario (Titolo 2).

Titolo 1: Considerazione della specificità bancaria e finanziaria nei meccanismi di concentrazione

67. – « Il faudrait avoir en droit une science des mécanismes juridiques (…) Nous décririons et classerions les mécanismes utilisés pour les créations et les transferts de propriété, de droits et d’obligations (…). Ce mécanisme juridique ne serait pas sans intérêt ». Ainsi, Dean Ripert a souligné l’importance des mécanismes juridiques. Or, dans son esprit, ce terme renvoyait à des techniques aussi disparates que les lettres de change, les opérations boursières ou les sociétés par actions. Le sens utilisé dans cette étude est nécessairement plus restrictif. En effet, seules les techniques juridiques permettant la réalisation de la concentration sont envisagées.

68. – Les autorités bancaires restent neutres quant au dispositif juridique permettant de réaliser la concentration. Néanmoins, il convient de noter qu’elles procèdent à des contrôles rigoureux afin de garantir la bonne gestion des établissements de crédit. Par exemple, contrairement à d’autres secteurs de l’économie, les initiateurs d’une reprise doivent présenter des garanties suffisantes ; dans le cas contraire, les autorités bancaires ont le pouvoir d’interdire l’opération. En outre, ce dernier peut s’opposer à une fusion bancaire, notamment si l’absorption fait courir un risque excessif à l’entité absorbante en raison d’une concentration importante des risques.

69. – Finally, the protectionist attitude of certain countries is particularly acute in the context of banking concentrations, as recent examples show. Some States prohibit or limit the establishment of foreign credit institutions on their territory by providing for very heavy legal constraints. Obviously, this complicates and slows down banking concentrations. Thus, the Norwegian authorities have long refused the offer of Merita-Nordbanken on Christiania before giving their approval. The Portuguese authorities opposed the takeover of the BPSM-MC group by BSCH and the intervention of the European Commission was necessary to allow a partial unblocking.

70. – We will therefore demonstrate that account is taken of the specific nature of banking and finance in concentration mechanisms in domestic law (chapter 1) as well as in Community law (chapter 2).

Chapter 1: Concentration mechanisms in domestic law

71. – It should be noted that financiers and economists too often refer to the term “mergers” as operations which, from a legal point of view, only result in acquisitions of shares of companies without merger between the entities concerned which remain legally distinct. The rigor of the jurist is not satisfied with this. This is the reason why it is necessary to make an essential distinction.
The merger and the takeover are thus distinguished by the nature of the object of the obligations of the parties. With regard to the merger, the obligation of the absorbed or combined bank is to make the contributions while for the beneficiary company, it is a question of settling the net assets contributed by means of social rights. With regard to the takeover, the beneficiary bank’s obligation will simply be to pay the acquisition price for the shares of the target. There is therefore a fundamental distinction in the mode of settlement of the concentration. Indeed, within the framework of the merger, a settlement by means of social rights distributed among the partners of the company or companies absorbed or combined must take place. This requirement highlights that the holders of the capital of the absorbed or combined companies remain “stakeholders” in the new unit resulting from the merger. This criterion therefore makes it possible to distinguish the merger (section 2) from other concentration operations such as the acquisition of control (section 1).

Section 1: Acquisitions of control

72. – As P. Coupaye points out: “the constitution of banking groups which occupy a dominant position on the market was carried out (…) through numerous equity investments. This concentration has generally taken place through takeovers of existing companies. During this period, we sometimes witnessed large-scale stock market maneuvers to ensure control of the coveted establishment or establishments”. The author alludes to the famous battle between the Suez and Paribas groups, with regard to CIC: given the 1966 legislation, the investment banks expressed the desire to widen their room for maneuver, by taking an interest in the banks depository with a sufficiently extensive network of counters. In this context, the banks Paribas and Suez engaged in a severe financial confrontation in 1968 to take control of CIC. After many stock market adventures, the Suez group took control of CIC, but sold 80% of the capital of the Banque de l’Union Parisienne to Paribas in 1971. The Crédit Commercial de France banking group was essentially formed by taking control of existing units. In a first phase, it strengthened its geographical presence by taking stakes in local or regional banks as well as in specialized establishments. In 1965, the CCF took stakes in the Regional Bank of Artois, in Finindus, in the Pierre Brun et fils bank, in 1966 in the Kolb bank and in the Borgeaud bank, in 1967 in two rediscount houses Morrhange et Cie , as well as Union d’Escompte, in 1968 in Banque Rivaud, in 1971 in Banque de Savoie, in 1972 in Banque Derobert. These concentration operations are interesting because they show that the beginnings of the concentration movement go back several decades. However, it should be noted that these concentration operations are small in scale compared to recent takeovers. Since 1996, the concentration movement has truly taken shape. Most of the major French banking groups have experienced numerous operations that have resulted in the takeover of very significant establishments. It can be cited, in 1996, the takeover of Indosuez by Crédit Agricole, in 1997, that of Crédit du Nord by Société Générale, in 1998, that of Natexis by the Banques Populaires group and that of CIC by Crédit Mutuel. In 1999, Crédit Foncier de France was acquired by Caisses d’Epargne, while BNP took control of Paribas. Finally, in 2003, Crédit Agricole succeeded in its public offer for Crédit Lyonnais and, in 2004, Crédit Foncier de France acquired Entenial.

73. – These concentrations lead to the creation of complex groups. Indeed, financial links can be established in various ways:
– a company takes exclusive control of a bank which becomes its subsidiary;
– several companies can together create a bank which will be their joint subsidiary;
– several companies may jointly take control of another bank.
We will therefore study the acquisition of exclusive control (§ 1) but also the joint takeover (§ 2) by demonstrating that the banking and financial specificity is taken into account in these modes of concentration.

§ 1: Taking account of banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of exclusive control

74. – In France, the legal acceptance of the notion of control dates from the mid-1980s. This period corresponds to an amplification of the phenomenon of mergers and inaugurates a real legal recognition of the power of control. This legislative consecration is imperfect. Many difficulties are related to the qualification of control (A). The banking object of the operations increases the complexity. This results in a number of issues that are related to the configuration of takeover (B).

A/ Difficulties related to the qualification of control

75. – These difficulties arise from the development of divergent definitions between the different branches of law (1). Undoubtedly, the fundamental problem lies in the determination of the threshold of the takeover (2).

1/ Divergent definitions

76. – The concept of control is presented as a functional concept whose usefulness has precisely consisted in allowing the legislator and the case law to draw the consequences of the phenomenon of concentration. It is therefore defined punctually according to its use. Thus, a difficulty lies in the fact that there is not one but several acceptations of control whose meaning varies with use. There is undeniably a feeling of heterogeneity.

77. – In company law, this notion is considered complex, even fleeting, because of its dynamism and relativity. There is not one but several legal notions of control. If exclusive control is normally acquired by law when a company acquires a majority of the voting rights of a company, it can also be acquired with a “qualified minority”, which can be established by any element of fact or law. . The difficulty arises from the fact that control cannot, in general, result from the mere existence of a capital link between the structures in question. The legislator has therefore attempted, when developing definitions of control, to capture the diversity of control situations.

Two types of control are envisaged by article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code. Legal control exists as soon as a company “holds, directly or indirectly, a fraction of the capital giving it the majority of voting rights in general meetings”. De facto control is characterized by the power that the company has, thanks to the voting rights held, to determine decisions at general meetings. This power is presumed when the latter “has, directly or indirectly, a fraction of the voting rights greater than 40% and no other partner or shareholder directly or indirectly holds a fraction greater than his own”.

78. – Concerning the consolidated financial statements, article L. 233-16 of the Commercial Code contains a definition of de jure control and de facto control essentially similar to that of article L. 233-3 of the Code of business. Indeed, this article defines de jure control by the holding of the majority of voting rights and de facto control by “the appointment, for two successive financial years, of the majority of the members of the administrative, management or supervision” with an identical presumption linked to the threshold of holding 40% of the voting rights. Admittedly, it does not expressly refer, like Article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code, to the power to determine the decisions of general meetings. But it is undeniable that a company having the ability to appoint the majority of the members of the administrative, management or supervisory bodies of another company, holds such power. Ultimately, the only difference between these provisions stems from the fact that Article L. 233-16-II 3° of the French Commercial Code also provides that control arises “from the right to exercise a dominant influence over a company by virtue of a contract or statutory clauses”. This criterion of control is found in competition law. that control arises “from the right to exercise a dominant influence over a company by virtue of a contract or statutory clauses”. This criterion of control is found in competition law. that control arises “from the right to exercise a dominant influence over a company by virtue of a contract or statutory clauses”. This criterion of control is found in competition law.

79. – Pour le droit de la concurrence, la prise de contrôle, caractéristique nécessaire de toute opération de concentration, confère la possibilité d’exercer une influence déterminante sur l’activité d’une entreprise. C’est une notion reprise notamment par le droit français, mais aussi par le droit communautaire des concentrations. Les articles L. 430-1 du Code de commerce et 3 § 2 du règlement CE n°. qui confèrent, seuls ou conjointement et compte tenu des circonstances de fait ou de droit, la possibilité d’exercer une influence déterminante sur l’activité d’une société ».

80. – Les dispositions du droit de la représentation collective relatives à la constitution du comité de groupe visent les sociétés contrôlées dans les conditions définies aux articles L. 233-1, L. 233-3 et L. 233-16 du code de commerce, mais aussi par influence dominante. Cette dernière existe toujours lorsque la société dominante détient une participation d’au moins 10 % du capital de la société dominée et que « la permanence et l’importance des relations de ces sociétés établissent l’appartenance de l’une et de l’autre à une même entité économique ». ”.

81. – Enfin, le droit bancaire et notamment le droit comptable bancaire retiennent des définitions différentes de la notion de contrôle. Selon le règlement n° 85-12 du Comité de la réglementation bancaire « une société est considérée comme contrôlée de manière exclusive lorsque la société mère détient, directement ou indirectement, une participation au capital et soit la majorité des droits de vote, soit le pouvoir de nommer le majorité des membres des organes d’administration, de direction ou de surveillance. Dans les deux cas suivants, l’existence d’un contrôle exclusif est également présumée :
– lorsqu’il n’existe pas d’autres actionnaires ou associés détenant ensemble une participation supérieure à celle du groupe et détenant chacun plus de 5 % du capital ; – lorsque, notamment, en vertu d’un contrat de gestion ou de clauses statutaires, une société du groupe y exerce une influence dominante ».

82. – Il semble imprudent d’adopter des définitions différentes du contrôle dans les différentes branches du droit qui visent à appréhender le phénomène de concentration. Un auteur souligne que si « le pluralisme doctrinal peut être source de progrès par les réflexions et les propositions qu’il implique, en revanche, la diversité juridique engendre la confusion et le doute quant à la réalité d’une notion ; il sera difficile d’instituer une réglementation cohérente (…) si l’on n’arrive pas, au préalable, à unifier la notion de contrôle sur laquelle repose tout l’édifice ». Dès lors, certains souhaiteraient que le législateur intervienne pour donner une définition unitaire du contrôle. Néanmoins, une partie de la doctrine stigmatise les obstacles qui s’opposent à une définition unitaire.

2/ Les obstacles à la fixation d’un seuil unitaire
83. – En remontant aux catégories juridiques, on peut dire que le contrôle est le droit de disposer de l’entreprise en tant que propriétaire. La substance du droit de propriété classique est le « jus abutendi », c’est-à-dire le droit de disposer. En pratique, c’est la possibilité de choisir le mode d’exploitation du bien. Ainsi, dans la propriété classique, le lien d’appartenance implique la capacité de contrôler la propriété. Les aspects d’appartenance et de maîtrise sont indissociables.

84. – Or, c’est précisément cette relation qui aujourd’hui est souvent rompue. Certains actionnaires ne sont que des « prêteurs », tandis que d’autres contrôlent des actifs qui ne leur appartiennent pas.

85. – The major problem is to know the threshold which will make it possible to qualify the control and consequently the existence of a substantial property right. According to Article L. 233-3-I of the Commercial Code, when a company holds more than 50% of the share capital of another company, we are in the presence of a parent company and its subsidiary in the legal sense. of the term.

86. – However, as we have already shown, there is no need to hold more than 50% of the capital of a company to exercise control. In reality, control of a credit institution is very often monopolized by minorities. Indeed, the majority principle combined with the wide dispersion of shares in the public allows certain minority shareholders to exercise power.
Paradoxically, the controlling shareholders are frequently in the minority, whereas the majority in number have no power over social management. It is therefore necessary to dissociate belonging and control. Unquestionably, we can affirm that the ownership of a certain number of shares will allow shareholders to extend their control well beyond what their membership should give them insofar as they will be able to control the totality of the economic activity of the company.

87. – It is therefore certain that the level of participation in the capital of a firm does not mean by itself that the bank is controlling. “Large packages of shares held by a bank can have a neutral meaning from this point of view. Moreover, the intensity of a control is not automatically proportional to the weight of the participation in the capital of a company. With 10%, total control is possible (…)”. Consequently, part of the doctrine proposes to carry out a case-by-case analysis. It would be necessary to know the distribution of the capital, to compare the rate of participation of the various shareholders, the respective weight of their representatives within the board of directors, to take account of the degree of absenteeism.

88. – This assertion is not called into question by taking into account the specificity of banking. However, the latter leads to increased complexity. There is an autonomy of the banking texts in the determination of the threshold of the takeover (a). The banking regulator’s interpretation also seems specific (b).

a/ The autonomy of banking texts in determining the threshold for taking control

89. – Company law, when it defines the notion of control, provides a certain number of thresholds.

90. – Banking law, in Article 2 of Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996, refers to the acquisition of the effective power of control without defining this notion. This criterion is foreign to the legal qualifications traditionally retained by company law. Thus, the notion of effective control, used on several occasions by banking regulations, is not defined in relation to Article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code. This is due to the concern to assess on a case-by-case basis the reality of the control exercised, including moreover in establishments whose corporate form is not that of a commercial company. Given that this text does not specify the threshold for holding an effective power of control, it is necessary to try to find other provisions of banking law which could provide some indications.

91. – Bank accounting law has attempted to give a very realistic definition of the notion of exclusive control. This is much more precise than that given by company law. Indeed, relatively precise indications are provided as to the determination of the takeover. A company is presumed to be exclusively controlled when there are no other shareholders or partners holding together a stake greater than that of the group and each possessing more than 5% of the company’s capital.

92. – In our opinion, this definition is very interesting because it gives a number of indications for setting the threshold for a takeover. However, it is not widely recognized. The banking regulatory authority does not retain this definition either to set the threshold for the takeover.

b/ The specificity of the interpretation of the banking regulatory authority in determining the threshold for taking control

93. – A major difficulty is therefore to know from what threshold a bank obtains control of its target. This problem was highlighted in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair. In a decision of 08/28/1999, the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee decided that BNP had not obtained “effective power of control” over Société Générale with 31.8% of the rights of voting.

94. – Thus, if it appears obvious that it is not enough to refer to the rates of the simple majority of 50% of the capital, it is commendable to seek what is the threshold for the acquisition of control of an establishment of credit for the CECEI. This is essential in the banking system because, if the CECEI finds that an initiating company has not succeeded in taking control of its target, it can prohibit it from keeping its stake. This was the case in the BNP/Société Générale/Paribas case. The CECEI found that BNP did not clearly have the effective power to control Société Générale. The Committee considered that, in a non-concerted framework and taking into account the shareholding structure of this establishment, the holding by BNP of such a stake was likely to disrupt the management of Société Générale. However, because of its place within the French banking system, the risk of disruption of its management was likely to thwart the overall functioning of the banking system. The Committee therefore decided not to authorize BNP to hold its stake in Société Générale. It can therefore be seen that the CECEI does not want to leave credit institutions in ambiguous situations concerning their control. However, he failed to demonstrate precise thresholds of control. the Committee decided not to authorize BNP to hold its stake in Société Générale. It can therefore be seen that the CECEI does not want to leave credit institutions in ambiguous situations concerning their control. However, he failed to demonstrate precise thresholds of control. the Committee decided not to authorize BNP to hold its stake in Société Générale. It can therefore be seen that the CECEI does not want to leave credit institutions in ambiguous situations concerning their control. However, he failed to demonstrate precise thresholds of control.

95. – First of all, it seems that it can be said that he did not refer to the takeover threshold set by Articles L. 233-3-II and L. 233-16 -II of the Commercial Code. Indeed, an impression of autonomy emerges from the notion of manifest possession of the effective power of control vis-à-vis that of presumed control. It should nevertheless be specified that the level of participation obtained by BNP in Société Générale prevents any definite conclusion from being drawn on this point.

96. – Inoltre, il silenzio della CECEI sui criteri da essa utilizzati rende impossibile avere anche certezza circa l’utilizzo delle nozioni di “controllo di fatto” o di “influenza determinante” utilizzate dalle autorità interne e comunitarie della concorrenza. Da un lato, il controllo de facto richiede una visione retrospettiva della distribuzione dei poteri nella società. Si svolge, per definizione, in vista dell’andamento delle assemblee, quindi, nel tempo. Nel caso BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas, la CECEI non ha effettuato tale verifica per il contesto e per l’urgenza di risolverlo. Sembra che la tutela del sistema bancario e finanziario imponga di non lasciare gli istituti di credito in situazioni di incertezza circa il loro controllo. È del resto per questo che l’autorizzazione della CECEI interviene a priori prima di ogni adunanza. Una tale revisione nel tempo è quindi difficile da attuare. Per quanto riguarda invece l’utilizzo del concetto di influenza determinante, anche in questo caso si può stimare che sia stata l’autonomia a prevalere rispetto al 31,8% dei diritti di voto acquisiti dalla BNP. Quest’ultimo, infatti, avrebbe potuto esercitare un’influenza determinante a causa della dispersione del resto del capitale e dei diritti di voto.

97. – Infine, è certo che non è stata mantenuta la soglia di subentro fissata dai testi di contabilità bancaria. Infatti, come abbiamo già precisato, vi si presume il controllo quando non vi sono altri soci o soci che detengano insieme una quota superiore a quella del gruppo e possiedano ciascuno più del 5% del capitale. Il BNP ha rispettato questo scenario. È certo, dunque, che la CECEI ha qui adottato una specifica interpretazione della nozione di controllo.

98. – Abbiamo appena evidenziato la complessità della definizione della soglia per l’assunzione del controllo. La difficoltà è ulteriormente aumentata in alcune ipotesi a causa della configurazione dell’acquisizione del controllo.

B/ Difficoltà legate alla configurazione dell’acquisizione del controllo

99. – Nell’acquisizione del controllo di soggetti privati ​​(1), pubblici (2) e mutualistici (3) si tiene conto della specificità bancaria e finanziaria.

1/ Tenendo conto della specificità bancaria e finanziaria nell’acquisizione del controllo di una banca privata

100. – Schematicamente, si possono distinguere due situazioni in cui appare essenziale la tutela del sistema bancario e finanziario. La specificità bancaria e finanziaria viene quindi presa in considerazione quando una banca fallisce (a) e quando è quotata in borsa (b).

a/ Tenere conto della specificità bancaria e finanziaria nell’acquisizione del controllo di una banca in dissesto

101. – Le procedure concorsuali in una società sono un fenomeno normale, inevitabile e persino auspicabile quando sono la conseguenza e la punizione per la cattiva amministrazione.

102. – Tale ragionamento, a nostro avviso, non è trasponibile al sistema bancario. Quest’ultimo, infatti, è ancora attualmente strettamente associato alla produzione e alla gestione del denaro. Certo, questa moneta è sempre più difficile da definire e identificare, in quanto dematerializzata, ma rimane fondamentalmente legata all’idea di fiducia. Poiché il denaro trasmette fiducia, il fallimento di una banca ha una risonanza molto maggiore rispetto alla procedura concorsuale di un’impresa industriale o commerciale di dimensioni equivalenti. Pertanto, le banche in fallimento sono state spesso salvate sotto l’egida dello Stato (α). Se in alcuni casi è stato proprio quest’ultimo il vero artefice del salvataggio, ora è l’intervento dell’Autorità di vigilanza bancaria ad essere consacrato (β).

α/ Il salvataggio delle banche sotto l’egida dello Stato

103. – The crisis of the 1990s put a large number of French banks in difficulty. The State, not wanting to liquidate them, has frequently launched rescue plans which have resulted in the failing banks being backed by more powerful groups.

104.– Let’s take the example of the Comptoir des Entrepreneurs. It is a public limited company under private law to which the State has entrusted a mission of general interest in the construction of housing, which allows it to distribute subsidized loans under various formulas. Since the end of the 1980s, it has been deprived of the distribution of loans assisted with access to property, now reserved solely for Crédit Foncier de France.

Thus, on 02/17 and 19/1993, the Comptoir des Entrepreneurs was no longer able to renew certificates of deposit with Société Générale SICAVs. The latter is in a state of cessation of payments and, technically, in a situation of insolvency.

With many difficulties, the State manages to set up a rescue of the Comptoir des Entrepreneurs. This is, in his view, the only solution to prevent panic on the interbank market and on the bond market where the Comptoir des Entrepreneurs is a major issuer. The plan has three components:

– a capital increase of 800 million francs accompanied by the issue of subordinated debt securities in the amount of 200 million francs. AGF increased their stake to almost 30% and Crédit Foncier entered the capital with 10%;

– une ligne de crédit de 6 milliards de francs est accordée par les principales banques de Paris au nom de la solidarité de la place, à l’initiative du gouverneur de la Banque de France, qui active la procédure de l’article 52 de la loi bancaire du 24/01/1984 ;

– enfin, la Caisse des dépôts accorde une avance de trésorerie de 1,6 milliard de francs sur cautions apportées par le Comptoir des entrepreneurs.

Malgré ce plan de sauvetage, la cession de plus de 3 milliards de francs de créances et l’émission, avec la garantie de l’Etat, de 5,5 milliards de francs d’obligations, le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs se retrouve, un an plus tard, au bord du gouffre.

En 1994, un dispositif de cession de créances est mis en place, permettant de sortir les principaux risques immobiliers du bilan du Comptoir des Entrepreneurs.

Le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs accumule encore des pertes de 1024 millions de francs et il faut mettre en place, en 1995, une deuxième opération de désendettement du bilan pour un montant de 7 milliards de francs. L’Etat intervient en garantie à hauteur de 4,5 milliards. AGF contribue ensuite à hauteur de 450 millions à la souscription de titres de créances subordonnés émis par le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs. Le solde, soit 2,1 milliards, est constitué de dette senior obtenue par conversion de prêts accordés par les AGF et la Caisse des dépôts. Enfin, une recapitalisation d’environ 1,2 milliard est prévue sur deux ans. Deux opérations intervenues en 1996 pour 700 et 550 millions de francs ont amené le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs sous le contrôle des AGF avec une participation directe de 52, 43% et la contribution de leur filiale Société d’Investissement Bancaire et Immobilière à hauteur de 22,46%. Cette opération confirme l’adossement du Comptoir des Entrepreneurs aux AGF.

Le bilan du Comptoir des Entrepreneurs est allégé suite aux deux opérations de défaisance et assaini. Cependant, sa solvabilité n’est pas rétablie puisque son ratio de fonds propres ne dépasse pas 5 %. C’est pourquoi les AGF font porter les titres de leur participation au capital du Comptoir des Entrepreneurs par une société holding afin que la Commission Bancaire, plutôt que de contrôler le ratio de solvabilité de chaque composante du groupe, se contente d’une appréciation globale.

105. – Cette opération de sauvetage par l’État n’était pas la seule ; on peut aussi citer le cas du Crédit Foncier de France.

Cette dernière est une institution financière privée spécialisée. Bien qu’étant une entreprise privée, elle est en fait dépendante de l’État. Les deux tiers du capital sont entre les mains de particuliers et d’investisseurs institutionnels. La part de la Caisse des Dépôts et des assurances publiques ne dépasse pas 15 %. Cependant, c’est l’État qui nomme le gouverneur et les principaux dirigeants.

Depuis 1977, le Crédit Foncier de France partage le monopole de la distribution des prêts aidés à l’accession à la propriété avec les sociétés de crédit immobilier et le Comptoir des Entrepreneurs. A partir du 01/10/1995, ces derniers sont supprimés notamment parce que la baisse des taux d’intérêt du marché rend les prêts hypothécaires classiques moins chers que les prêts aidés à l’accession à la propriété.

En 1995, la crise immobilière entraînant une baisse de la valeur des actifs et de la demande de crédits, le Crédit Foncier de France subit une perte de 10,7 milliards de francs et ne parvient pas à faire face à ses obligations prudentielles. Celle-ci est particulièrement défaillante au regard des provisions qu’elle aurait dû constituer sur ses risques immobiliers.

L’État, ne pouvant faire appel à aucun actionnaire de référence, a organisé lui-même le sauvetage du Crédit Foncier de France, dans la mesure où une simple liquidation aurait pu entraîner l’effondrement de l’ensemble du marché du crédit immobilier et obligataire.

At the start of 1996, after lengthy negotiations, Crédit Foncier de France obtained a line of credit allowing it to refinance itself for an amount of 20 billion francs at market conditions. Undoubtedly, the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations acts as a lender of last resort in place of the Banque de France, which does not wish to create a precedent by intervening itself in an overly conspicuous way. Then a few months later, the State itself guarantees the bond debt of Crédit Foncier de France which is, with an outstanding amount of 270 billion francs, the second issuer after the Treasury. Consequently, the State is actively seeking to back Crédit Foncier de France with a more solid institution which would take over the net liabilities. It took more than three years for a solution to be found to this crisis.

In a press release dated 03/13/1997, Minister Arthuis, whose services are advised by Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, launched a call for applications to recapitalize Crédit Foncier de France, which had been without capital for more than two years. A year later, this not very transparent procedure ends up releasing a potential buyer. A consortium formed by GMAC, the Texan investor Bass, the Caisses d’Epargne and the CCF, is continuing the discussions, after the abandonment of GE Capital, the Post Office and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. Despite the interest of American groups for the prospects offered by the securitization of mortgage loans, the negotiations were finally broken off in 09/1998, in the face of the derisory price offered and guarantee requirements deemed exorbitant.

Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn then announced a completely different plan. The first stage is that of a financial restructuring of Crédit Foncier de France to restore its solvency. The second stage is that of an “open, transparent and non-discriminatory” backing procedure. It led to a new Crédit Foncier, the main player in the obligations foncières market, which restored all of its attractiveness to the establishment in the eyes of potential buyers.

Crédit Foncier de France’s articles of association have been simplified and brought into line with company law, which excludes the appointment of managers by the State. Finally, Crédit Foncier de France is recapitalized with the approval of the European Commission. The operation is led by the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, as a shareholder advance, for an amount of 1.85 billion francs. This makes it possible, after reduction of the share capital, to bring the institution’s own funds to a level that complies with prudential regulations.

Finally, the buyer of 90.6% of the capital of Crédit Foncier de France is the Caisses d’Epargne group. Given that shortly before the final choice, the law of 25/06/1999 modified the status of the Caisses d’Epargne by making them cooperative companies and by providing the network with a central body, namely the Caisse Caisses d’Epargne, which becomes the real buyer of Crédit Foncier de France. It should be noted that the general interest mission of financing social housing falling within the remit of the Caisses d’Epargne, the attachment of Crédit Foncier de France is entirely justified.

106. – Unquestionably, these operations to rescue French banks were carried out under the aegis of the State. Yet, gradually, political intervention gave way to legal regulation. Indeed, from now on, the treatment of failing banks is carried out through the intermediary of the banking regulatory authority.

β/ The consecration of the intervention of the banking regulatory authority

107. – This consecration of the intervention of the banking regulatory authority gradually took hold. This could be seen during the default of Banque Majorel. The latter was declared insolvent at the beginning of 1992. Indeed, a provisional administrator had been appointed by the Banking Commission after the failure of negotiations with a possible buyer, Crédit Agricole de l’Aveyron. He had noted a very serious lack of provisions, since the outstanding amount had to be provisioned at more than 50%. However, the provisions recognized did not reach 10%. Consequently, the declaration of cessation of payments was made less than a month after the appointment of the provisional administrator. The Commercial Court of Rodez approved a transfer plan proposed by Société Bordelaise de CIC. The counters closed only a few days without serious problems vis-à-vis the customers. However, the disposal plan included aid from the AFB solidarity mechanism of 120 million francs supported by all the AFB banks.

108. – The Court of Cassation, in a judgment of 26/04/1994, upheld the power of the Commission Bancaire to decide on the compulsory resignation of the manager of the bank. The Commercial Chamber therefore confirmed that the managers were deprived of all powers with regard to the credit institution. The power conferred on the Banking Commission was therefore very significant.

109. – But a decision of principle of the Court of Cassation is not the law and it is with remarkable speed that the legislator, from law n° 94-679 of 08/08/1994, drew the first consequences of the Majorel judgment. This specified that the provisional administrator appointed by the Commission Bancaire was transferred “all the powers of administration, management and representation of the legal person”. The law of 08/08/1994 at the same time adjusted the powers of the Banking Commission by opening up greater ease of decision-making but by making it subject to an adversarial obligation. The legislator thus sanctioned the possibility of a very rapid appointment of a provisional administrator.

110. – The ultimate strengthening of the powers of the Banking Commission was found in the law relating to savings and financial security. The latter enshrined the specificity of judicial reorganization and liquidation, applicable to credit institutions and investment companies. This reform completed the derogations already adopted in favor of financial companies. More specifically, it recognized the specificity of financial enterprises, while keeping them within the ambit of common law. Indeed, the amended law of 25/01/1985 is still applicable to these companies, but the derogation measures are becoming more and more numerous.

Thus, the law of 06/25/1999 introduced a number of provisions aimed at modernizing the financial sector and strengthening the security of the system as a whole. To this end, it significantly strengthened the powers of the Banking Commission, giving it specific powers, in particular the prohibition on distributing dividends and the obligation to sell shares or shares. Similarly, the law organized the pre-eminence of the Banking Commission over the Commercial Court by obliging company directors to notify the Banking Commission beforehand of their intention to declare the cessation of payments by their establishment. In addition, it improved the transparency of credit institutions belonging to a group, by making their authorization conditional on the transparency of the group’s structures. Finally,

111. – The decree of 26/12/2000, in turn inaugurated this new approach by organizing a better distribution of powers between the different bodies that may intervene in the procedure: provisional administrator, judicial administrator, liquidator appointed by the Banking Commission and liquidator judicial. The competence of the banking and judicial authorities now gives way to the predominance of the banking commission, whose powers have been strengthened. Currently, the opening of reorganization or liquidation proceedings against a credit institution or an investment firm is subject to the prior opinion of the Banking Commission. The redefinition, by the law of 25/06/1999, of the notion of cessation of payments applicable to credit institutions required, in fact, a reorganization of the competent bodies to note this state and to open a collective procedure against these establishments. The “financialization” of the notion of cessation of payments, now perceived as the moment when the credit institution is no longer able to ensure its payments, immediately or in the near term, can only be assessed by a financial authority. . In this respect, the Banking Commission is henceforth the mandatory prerequisite for the opening of any collective proceedings or any amicable settlement. However, this is not an assent and the absence of a response within the time limit cannot prevent the opening of proceedings. The “financialization” of the notion of cessation of payments, now perceived as the moment when the credit institution is no longer able to ensure its payments, immediately or in the near term, can only be assessed by a financial authority. . In this respect, the Banking Commission is henceforth the mandatory prerequisite for the opening of any collective proceedings or any amicable settlement. However, this is not an assent and the absence of a response within the time limit cannot prevent the opening of proceedings. The “financialization” of the notion of cessation of payments, now perceived as the moment when the credit institution is no longer able to ensure its payments, immediately or in the near term, can only be assessed by a financial authority. . In this respect, the Banking Commission is henceforth the mandatory prerequisite for the opening of any collective proceedings or any amicable settlement. However, this is not an assent and the absence of a response within the time limit cannot prevent the opening of proceedings. the mandatory prerequisite for the opening of any collective proceedings or any amicable settlement. However, this is not an assent and the absence of a response within the time limit cannot prevent the opening of proceedings. the mandatory prerequisite for the opening of any collective proceedings or any amicable settlement. However, this is not an assent and the absence of a response within the time limit cannot prevent the opening of proceedings.

112. – Thus, a certain number of specific rules apply to credit institutions and investment firms in dealing with their default. These are part of a financial logic consisting in strengthening the prevention of difficulties that may affect them.

113. – However, it is certain that the new applicable rules are not infallible and that bank failures remain possible. In this case, it is a question of avoiding a high systemic risk. The takeover of a failing bank by a healthy financial institution is one of the solutions favored by the banking regulatory authorities. Indeed, this operation will lead to an increase in concentration which is likely to strengthen the structure of the banking system. The sale of a failing bank must then comply with the specific rules applicable to insolvency proceedings by credit institutions.

114. – Having demonstrated that banking and financial specificity are taken into account in the ordinary rules for the restructuring of defaulting capital, it should be verified that this same phenomenon is present in the takeover of a listed bank.

b/ Taking account of banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of control of a listed bank

115. – Banks are generally large in size. They are therefore frequently listed on the stock exchange. Only small entities and certain subsidiaries of large groups remain unlisted. However, these are less and less numerous because of the amplification of the phenomenon of concentration.

116. – The conditions for taking control of a listed bank are much stricter compared to other economic sectors. Indeed, the banking object of the takeover entails the application of banking law. The latter is more restrictive than stock market law. The distributive application of these two rights therefore generates obstacles to the gradual acquisition of control of a bank by picking up on the stock exchange. There are only two usable techniques left. These are the acquisition of a control block (α) and the public offering (β).

α/ Acquisition of a block of control

117. – The negotiation of a block of control is the operation by which the shareholder of a company which holds a sufficient number of shares allowing him to exercise in the organs of the company directly or indirectly, a preponderant influence, sells them to a person wishing to acquire them.

118. – Originally, the law of 02/08/1989 amended by the law of 31/12/1993 was applicable. This was taken up, with little modification, by article 33 of the law of 02/07/1996 incorporated into article L. 433-1 II of the Monetary and Financial Code. The latter instructs the financial regulatory authority to provide in its General Regulations, regulations in this area: “in order to ensure the equality of shareholders and the transparency of the markets…”.

119. – The General Regulations therefore provide in Book II, Title I, for a Chapter V concerning the price guarantee procedure. These are the rules relating to the conditions under which the proposed acquisition of a block of securities conferring the majority of the capital or voting rights of a company whose shares are admitted to trading on a regulated market obliges the the purchasers to buy the securities which are then presented to them at the price or at the price at which the transfer of the block is carried out. The purchaser of the block undertakes to acquire on the market, at the price of the block, the securities presented for at least ten trading days.

120. – The Autorité des Marchés Financiers focuses its attention mainly on the price offered and possibly authorizes a derogation from equal pricing. The filing is published by the Autorité des marchés financiers and its approval gives rise to the publication of a notice. The buyer of the block must also send a draft press release, the content of which is close to an information note. When this project is approved, it is published. As soon as the press release is published, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers declares the opening of the procedure. At the end of it, it pronounces its closure.

121. – This procedure was used in the banking sector, in particular, during the Banco espirito Santo/ Via Banque and Crédit Foncier de France/ Entenial transactions.

122. – Stock market rules must apply alongside banking rules. In fact, the acquisition of a control block entails the application of the Regulation of the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee No. 96-16 of 12/20/1996. The latter provides for the authorization of the takeover by the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee. It should be specified that it is up to the person who acquires the control block to request the authorization thus provided for. This clarification is important because previously it was the establishment whose distribution of capital experienced a significant change that had to submit this request. In the event of non-compliance with the provisions applicable to shareholders of credit institutions, the law of 07/16/1992 provides for a specific sanction:

123. – This highlights the fundamental link between banking law and securities law. These two rights should therefore be coordinated, which is not obvious, particularly in terms of public offers.

β/ Public offering

124. – Public offerings of securities are the instrument par excellence for takeovers, particularly in the banking sector. The primary mechanisms of concentration are the public purchase or exchange offer. These consist, on the part of a company, in publicly proposing to the shareholders of another company to acquire their shares at a determined price, generally higher than the market price. When the price is settled in cash, it is a tender offer. When it is settled by the delivery of shares or bonds, it is a public exchange offer.

125. – The operation has many interests. It ensures equal treatment for all sellers and represents one of the techniques for protecting minority shareholders in banking groups. It constitutes an effective means of bringing about a grouping, which is particularly useful in view of the creation of the European financial market.

126. – For civil lawyers, the offer is “the proposal that it will suffice for the solicited party to accept for the contract to be concluded”. Thus, it is a proposal to contract, which can be made to a named person or to any other person, ie to the public, and this, whatever its meaning and its object: to acquire or to transfer; tangible or intangible property. Its author may therefore propose to acquire or sell securities held, as the case may be, by the public or by him. Recipients of the solicitation may or may not accept it. Also, the public offer is only one offer among others. It also presents the essential characteristic of any offer. She must be firm. It is for this reason that it constitutes an irrevocable commitment.

127. – If this contractual aspect is taken into consideration by stock market law, at the same time, it gives the public offer a procedural aspect. Indeed, it defines the public offer as the procedure which allows a natural or legal person to make known publicly that it proposes to acquire or sell all or part of the securities of a company listed on the first market. or at the coast of the secondary market. In the same vein, it indicates that the rules enacted set the general process for conducting a public offering with a view to the orderly conduct of operations in the best interests of investors and the market. This process is characterized by the filing of a draft offer, the decision on the admissibility of the offer,

128. – Thus, the public offer is subject to procedural rules of stock market law. However, these rules are not exclusive because of the interference of banking rules.

– Rules of stock market law

129. – Several procedures coexist: the so-called normal procedure and the so-called simplified procedure must be distinguished. The latter is of an exceptional nature and can only be implemented in the cases expressly specified. We will not devote any development to it because it does not aim to allow the takeover of a company. It is then necessary to differentiate between the normal procedure and the compulsory procedure. Within the framework of the first procedure, the offer can be freely launched by any person. In the context of the second procedure, a public offer must be filed when a shareholder exceeds the threshold of one third of the capital or voting rights as well as in the event that he rapidly increases his participation. The most innovative point concerns the temporary regularization of immigrants – those who entered Italy before December 31, 2011 – who will denounce the boss or the company exploiting or even mistreating them. Those who lodge a complaint and undertake to cooperate in the criminal proceedings brought against their employer will thus be issued a humanitarian residence permit for a period of six months, renewable for a period of at least one year.

130. – Various reforms have taken place, some of them without the support of a legal text, which is debatable. The stock market regulatory authority is authorized to make regulations concerning the operation of the markets placed under its control “for the execution of its mission”. It is for this reason that Regulation No. 89-03 was adopted. This was repealed by Regulation No. 2002-04, the provisions of which were taken over by the General Regulation of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers. These apply to public takeover bids relating to financial instruments traded on a regulated market. The text sets strict criteria for “any offer made publicly to holders of financial instruments traded on a regulated market (…) with a view to acquiring all or part of said financial instruments”. An ambitious triple objective is set: respect for the free play of bids and their higher bids, equal treatment and information for the holders of securities of the companies concerned, transparency, market integrity and fairness in transactions and competition. Consequently, the Regulation increases the level of information disseminated to the market and to the public. Thus, a draft information memorandum must be filed by the initiator of the public offer. This project, drawn up by the initiator and the target company, alone or jointly, must be the subject of a press release at the latest when it is filed. Likewise, any data likely to supplement this information note must be transmitted to the public. This is the case for any clause in the agreement concluded by the companies concerned or their shareholders likely to have an impact on the assessment of the public offer. This arrangement is clearly inspired by the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas concentration. In this case, an agreement between Axa and Paribas had been revealed late when it provided for a device requiring the first to obtain the agreement of the second before bringing its shares to the offer. In addition, the initiator of the offer must specify its intentions in terms of volume and structure of the workforce, the orientations in terms of employment, as well as its objectives regarding the maintenance of the securities of the target company on the market for ” the next twelve months. The document must also set out “the financing conditions of the operation and their impact on the assets, activity and results of the companies concerned”. The target company is required to file a draft offer document. It states the reasoned opinion of the board of directors or the supervisory board deciding on “the interest of the offer or its consequences for the target company, its shareholders and its employees”. Finally, during the takeover bid, the companies concerned, the members of their administrative or management bodies, the presenting establishments and the consulting establishments, the persons or entities holding at least 5% of the capital or voting rights have the obligation to declare, each day,

131. – The regulation cannot add to the law as recalled by the Court of Cassation. However, the implementation of a legal support was late. This is welcome since stock market regulations clearly include constraints that can only come from legislative authorization. Indeed, article 34 of the Constitution provides that: “the law determines the fundamental principles of the system of ownership of real rights and civil and commercial obligations”.

132. – The law of 02/08/1989 inserted into the law of 22/01/1988 an article 6 bis in order to regulate public offers. This provision, which is at the origin of mandatory public offers, was modified by the law of 31/12/1993. It was taken up, with little modification, by article 33 of the law of 02/07/1996, which instructs the financial regulatory authority to provide in its General Regulations, regulations in this area. According to this text: “in order to ensure the equality of shareholders and the transparency of the markets, the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council lays down the rules relating to public offers relating to financial instruments traded on a regulated market (…)”. It is specified that any person who comes to hold a fraction of the capital or voting rights of a company, must immediately inform the financial regulatory authority and file a public offer for the securities concerned. This threshold has been set at one third of a company’s capital or voting rights.

133. – Following the law of 02/08/1989, the General Regulations of the Stock Exchange Council, which could not derogate from the obligations laid down by law, dealt with public offers.

134. – This system was maintained by the law of 02/07/1996. This provided that the General Regulations of the Stock Exchange Council remain applicable, while indicating that they may be amended or repealed.

135. – It was amended by decrees of 03/27/1997, 07/09/1997 and 08/11/1997, then repealed and replaced, by the new Title V of the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council. This was approved by a decree of 05/11/1998. This title defines the rules applicable to takeover bids. It should be noted that these General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council were amended by the decrees of 18/12/2000 and 15/11/2002. These texts approved new provisions in terms of public offers. Indeed, the old version had shown its weaknesses, in particular, during the great banking and stock market battle of 1999 between BNP, Société Générale and Paribas. It has been clarified that the initiator of a takeover bid or a public offer may specify a condition for obtaining below which this offer will not be followed up positively, which constitutes a derogation from the principle of irrevocability of the offer. . In the case of two simultaneous offers, he can waive the conditionality clause and reopen his offer if he holds more than two-thirds of the capital and voting rights. The threshold required for this reopening is reduced to the majority of the capital and voting rights if several offers are present. Finally, the option is introduced for an initiator to condition its public offer on the approval of the competition authorities. These provisions have been included in the General Regulations of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers.

136. – These reforms are indicative of the consideration given to specific cases by the financial regulatory authority when drafting general rules. This phenomenon should also be highlighted with regard to the consideration of banking specificity in the regulation of public offers.

– The taking into account of banking specificity in the regulation of public offers

137. – Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996 of the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee provides for an additional formality for credit institutions. It submits to the prior authorization of the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee any transaction involving the acquisition, extension or sale of direct or indirect holdings, when this transaction has the effect of allowing a person or a group of persons acting together to acquire the effective power of control over the management of the company or to acquire one-third, one-fifth or one-tenth of the voting rights.

138. – Tale previsione, a nostro avviso, rischia di complicare le offerte jolly nel sistema bancario. Infatti, la necessità di ottenere il preventivo assenso della CECEI per assumere il controllo di un istituto di credito costituisce un ostacolo. Quest’ultima è tanto più importante in quanto il Comitato si è dichiarato contrario alle offerte pubbliche di acquisto ostili da parte delle banche. Tuttavia, questa non è una difesa anti-acquisizione assoluta perché l’azienda bersaglio ha solo una tregua dal processo di pre-autorizzazione. Questa tregua può tuttavia essere abbastanza lunga da consentire alla banca target di organizzare la propria difesa perché il CECEI ha la possibilità di sospendere il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche. Questo potrebbe essere visto nel caso BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas. In primo luogo, il Comitato ha bloccato il rilancio su Paribas rinviandone la decisione perché il progetto poneva interrogativi soprattutto dal punto di vista prudenziale. L’autorizzazione e quindi la prosecuzione del normale svolgimento delle offerte, è intervenuta solo dieci giorni dopo. Il Comitato ha invece ritardato la comunicazione dei risultati definitivi delle offerte note dal 14/08/1999 al 30/08/1999 senza giustificazione pubblica, salvo l’annuncio dell’audizione dei presidenti dei due istituti di credito cedenti. In questo caso si trattava di modificare il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche forzando la negoziazione. il Comitato ha ritardato l’annuncio dei risultati definitivi delle offerte note dal 14/08/1999 al 30/08/1999 senza giustificazione pubblica, a parte l’annuncio dell’audizione dei presidenti dei due istituti di credito promotori. In questo caso si trattava di modificare il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche forzando la negoziazione. il Comitato ha ritardato la comunicazione dei risultati definitivi delle offerte note dal 14/08/1999 al 30/08/1999 senza pubblica giustificazione, salvo l’annuncio dell’audizione dei presidenti dei due istituti di credito promotori. In questo caso si trattava di modificare il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche forzando la negoziazione. a parte l’annuncio dell’audizione dei presidenti dei due istituti di credito promotori. In questo caso si trattava di modificare il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche forzando la negoziazione. a parte l’annuncio dell’audizione dei presidenti dei due istituti di credito promotori. In questo caso si trattava di modificare il prezzo delle offerte pubbliche forzando la negoziazione.

139. – Peraltro, è indispensabile rilevare che i titoli detenuti oltre la soglia stabilita sono privati ​​del diritto di voto. Questa sanzione è interessante, perché va oltre il quadro delle sanzioni legali tradizionali. In effetti, c’è un’inadeguatezza delle sanzioni tradizionali. Per la loro rigidità, la nullità, la rescissione o l’attribuzione del risarcimento mancano di efficacia. Appare, ad esempio, ovvio che se la sanzione per l’inosservanza della normativa bancaria fosse la nullità o la risoluzione dell’operazione, ciò avrebbe un impatto sull’acquirente dei titoli ma anche sull’esistenza della società che potrebbe essere messa in al pericolo. La privazione del diritto di voto è efficace perché l’acquirente dei titoli non è esautorato dalla sua appartenenza, il che limita inoltre la violazione del suo diritto,

140. – Infine, l’articolo 9 della legge 15.05.2001 relativa alle nuove regole economiche ha integrato l’articolo L. 511-10 del Codice monetario e finanziario. Si precisa che chiunque intenda presentare una bozza di offerta pubblica finalizzata all’acquisizione di un determinato quantitativo di titoli da un istituto di credito autorizzato in Francia, è tenuto a informare il Governatore della Banque de France, Presidente della CECEI, otto giorni lavorativi prima del deposito di questa bozza di offerta o del suo annuncio pubblico se precedente. Questo provvedimento ha lo scopo di evitare che si ripeta quanto accaduto durante le offerte pubbliche BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas del 1999, quando le autorità bancarie si trovarono di fronte al fatto compiuto. Le autorità di vigilanza, infatti, avevano appreso di alcune offerte dai giornali del mattino.

Ovviamente, questo provvedimento si limita alla semplice informazione, di carattere riservato, del Governatore della Banque de France. Pertanto, quest’ultimo non ha alcuna decisione da prendere. Nessuna sanzione legale è applicabile in assenza di informazioni o in caso di informazioni tardive. Va comunque sottolineato che il Governatore della Banque de France è il Presidente della CECEI. Tuttavia, i poteri di tale Comitato sono notevoli in quanto ad esso spetta il rilascio dei singoli nulla osta nonché delle autorizzazioni al controllo. Ciò costituisce un forte incentivo a rispettare tale obbligo di informazione.

141. – Conseguentemente, organizzando una migliore informazione nell’ambito delle offerte pubbliche bancarie, tale legge mira a tutelare meglio il sistema bancario e finanziario. Consente al Governatore della Banque de France “di rendere nota la sua valutazione, o anche di esercitare un ruolo di buoni uffici prima che il deposito renda irrevocabile l’offerta”. Introduce quindi nel diritto borsistico una forma di interventismo statale specifica per le offerte bancarie pubbliche. È indiscutibile qui che la specificità bancaria viene presa in considerazione nel meccanismo delle offerte pubbliche.

142. – In definitiva, se questa presa in considerazione della specificità bancaria avviene nell’acquisizione del controllo di banche private, lo stesso fenomeno può evidenziarsi nell’assunzione del controllo di banche pubbliche.

2/ Tenere conto delle specificità bancarie e finanziarie nell’acquisizione del controllo di una banca pubblica

143. – Takeovers of public banks took place within the framework of privatization procedures. Privatization is the transfer from the public sector to the private sector of the majority stakes held by the State in certain companies. If the operation is complex, privatization is the basis of a transfer of ownership of the securities forming the capital of a State company to persons governed by private law.

144. – The decision can belong only to the legislator. The solution is expressed by article 34 of the 1958 Constitution: “The law establishes the rules concerning (…) the transfer of ownership of enterprises from the public sector to the private sector”. The principle has been reiterated by the Council of State on several occasions. A law was therefore needed, or at the very least a standard of equivalent value, such as an ordinance.

145. – Le gouvernement a choisi la voie des ordonnances. En conséquence, une loi du 02/07/1986 l’a habilité à procéder, par ordonnance, à la privatisation d’une série de sociétés qu’il a cotées. Le premier secteur concerné était précisément le secteur bancaire. L’ordonnance préparée n’a pas été signée par le président de la République, ce qui a obligé le gouvernement à modifier sa procédure.

146. – Un projet de loi a donc été soumis au parlement. Elle aboutit au vote de la loi du 06/08/1986 « relative aux modalités d’application des privatisations décidées par la loi du 02/07/1986 ». Le régime juridique des privatisations est ainsi tiraillé entre la loi du 02/07/1986 qui pose le principe et celle du 06/08/1986 qui décrit les modalités et qui a été modifiée par la loi du 19/07/1993.

147. – La privatisation est mise en place par la Direction du Trésor. L’opération nécessite également l’intervention de la Commission de privatisation, chargée d’évaluer la banque. La Commission décide sur la base des rapports d’évaluation établis par les banques du Conseil du Trésor. Il détermine la valeur minimale des entreprises à privatiser, avec l’aide d’expertises externes. Ces évaluations sont réalisées en tenant compte, selon une pondération appropriée à chaque cas, de la valeur de marché du titre, de la valeur des actifs, des bénéfices réalisés, de l’existence de filiales et des perspectives d’avenir. Une approche « multicritères » est donc consacrée. Le prix d’offre ou de vente est fixé par le ministre chargé de l’économie, qui ne doit pas être inférieur à l’évaluation donnée par la commission. Enfin,

148. – However, the intervention of the banking authorities appeared uncertain (a). Nevertheless, the taking into account of the banking and financial specificity in the privatization procedures is indisputable (b).

a/ The uncertain intervention of the banking authorities in privatizations

149. – It should be specified that the competences of the Commission and of the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee may come into conflict during bank privatizations. Indeed, they both aim to maintain the proper functioning and security of the banking and financial system. The Commission is thus competent to assess the bank, intervene when the status of the public bank changes and choose the acquirers. The Committee is competent to authorize equity investments. On this occasion, its control is concentrated on the shareholders. Consequently, the two authorities intervene to decide on the change of shareholders.

This distribution of roles did not make it possible to overcome a certain number of difficulties and shortcomings linked to the interference of banking specificity in this restructuring mechanism. Indeed, the authorities in charge of banking definition and supervision have not seen their role specified in the context of these operations. Thus, it may seem, at first glance, relatively secondary.

The choice of the members of the groups of associated shareholders does not fall within the competence of the CECEI, which is solely responsible for the approval, the control of the bank shareholding and the authorization to cross the threshold fixed for the vote. However, within the framework of the authorization to take control or to cross thresholds, the latter could have made these authorizations conditional on a certain number of measures aimed at effectively protecting the banking system. This was not the case. First of all, it should be noted that the Director of the Treasury is a member of the CECEI. However, he is at the origin of the assembly of the operation. In addition, the Chairman of the Committee is the Governor of the Banque de France.

150. – Furthermore, the Banking Commission should have intervened in order to protect the banking system. Indeed, in a number of cases, the losses of public banks were accumulating. There were delays in provisioning, insufficient capital and non-compliance with prudential ratios. However, the Commission Bancaire has not ruled on the advisability of withdrawing the authorization of failing institutions, in particular the subsidiaries of banking companies and first-rate public financial companies. This could have allowed him to put pressure on the choice of the Treasury and the government in the privatization procedure.

b/ Taking account of banking and financial specificities in privatization procedures

151. – The taking into account of the banking and financial specificity was carried out within the framework of privatization procedures on the financial markets (a) as well as in the context of off-market privatization procedures (b).

α/ Privatization procedures on the financial markets

152. – These procedures are subject to specific rules. Banking regulation only appears in these hypotheses in a very incidental way.

– Rules specific to privatizations on the financial markets

153. – This method consists of the State offering the shares of the privatized company to the financial market. The operation is in a way a reverse takeover bid, ie a public sale offer. It is the direct result of the public offering procedure provided for by the general regulations of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers. A notice is published. It indicates the number of titles offered for sale as well as the price. Interested persons have a deadline to respond to this offer, indicating the number of securities they wish to purchase.

154. – It should be specified that Article 4-1 of Law No. 86-912 of 06/08/1986 provides that transfers made by the State “may be subject to payment in installments…” However, the implementing decree for this text was delayed since it was only published in 1997. Its scope is limited since it only concerns privatization operations which result in a transfer of control according to the procedures of the financial market.

155. – Without going into the details of the decree, it is however appropriate to dwell on the conditions of implementation of the right granted to the State in the event of default of payment by a shareholder. With regard to payment defaults, the procedure provides that “whatever the cause of the default, the registration in the account of the bearer of the shares whose due date has not been honored is automatically canceled. The new account entry is made in the name of the State by the issuing legal entity or the authorized financial intermediary without the bearer having been given prior formal notice to have to settle his debt”. The solution is as brutal as it is effective.

156. – It seems to us that such a legal retention of title could have been dangerous for the stability of the banking system. The State could again have shares in credit institutions in the event of non-payment. He would then have been able to sell them again. The banking authorities would certainly have had to intervene with the aim of protecting the banking system. This incursion would have highlighted the consideration of banking regulation.

– Consideration of banking regulation

157. – The privatization of a bank must in principle be subject to the prior authorization of the CECEI. Indeed, according to Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996, any transaction involving the transfer of holdings in a credit institution, when this transaction has the effect of allowing a person or a group of persons to acquire the effective power to control the management of the company or to acquire one-third, one-fifth or one-tenth of the voting rights, must be authorized. Thus, it is indisputable that the privatization of a bank must be authorized by the CECEI. Banking specificity therefore interferes in the privatization procedure.

158. – However, it should be specified that under the terms of Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996, only transfers allowing a person or a group of persons to acquire at least 10% of the rights of vote, are subject to the prior authorization of the CECEI. Thus, in certain bank privatization operations, the acquirers have not reached the threshold of a 10% stake. The Committee was therefore not informed by the Treasury. In reality, the privatization operations that gave rise to referral to the CECEI are those that were partially carried out on the financial markets.

159. – Correlatively, the disposals that took place within the framework of off-market privatization procedures involved the CECEI.

β/ Off-market privatization procedures

160. – Control of an off-market public bank can be transferred. In certain cases, this single procedure has been used with a view to forming a group known as “stable shareholders”. A consideration of banking and financial specificity in the rules applicable to privatization can be demonstrated. In addition, a particularity of the various off-market banking privatizations can be highlighted.

– Taking into account the banking and financial specificity in the rules applicable to privatization

161. – Under the terms of article 4 of law n° 86-912 of 06/08/1986, in its wording resulting from law n° 93-923 of 19/07/1993, the transfer or exchange of securities, sales of preferential rights or waivers of such rights are carried out according to financial market procedures. However, the Minister in charge of the Economy may decide to appeal to off-market buyers. The choice of the purchaser(s) and the terms of sale are determined by the Minister for the Economy, with the assent of the Privatization Commission, which has become the Participations and Transfers Commission. This also provides the valuation of the company. A Council of State decree sets in particular the publicity rules to which these decisions are subject and the cases in which a call for tenders is used. Furthermore, article l of decree n° 93-1041 of 03/09/1993, modified by decree n° 95-947 of 25/08/1995 specifies that, for the application of the provisions of the second paragraph of n article 4 of the law of 06/08/1986, private sector holdings in the capital of public companies are subject to certain rules. The decision to sell or exchange over-the-counter securities or rights of public companies is publicized by publication in the Official Journal. When specifications governing the operation are established, this insertion informs potential buyers so that they send their offer accompanied by their financial references. The drafting of the specifications in bank privatizations is the subject of specificities. It is recalled that the economic role of the bank to be privatized must be preserved in the country’s banking organization so as not to undermine the stability and security of the financial system. It is specified that prospective acquirers must explain how they intend to develop the bank while respecting the requirements of the specifications. In other words, they must commit to an industrial project and not just seek capital gains on a transitional equity investment. These specific provisions aim to protect the banking and financial system. When no specifications are provided, the Minister for the Economy appoints an independent personality whose name is made public. This establishes a report on the conditions and progress of the operation. This report is submitted to the Minister and to the Privatization Commission. Potential buyers must send their offer accompanied by their financial references.

162. – We have demonstrated the interference of banking and financial specificity in the rules applicable to privatization. Correlatively, in practice, the various off-market banking privatizations have been specific compared to other economic sectors.

– The specific nature of the various off-market banking privatizations

163. – Concerning the privatization of the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole, law no. Provision has been made for the purchase of the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole by the regional banks for 90% of the capital and by the group’s employees for 10% of the capital.

164. – Article 4 of this law provided that the valuation of the fund should be carried out according to the procedure provided for by law no. 86-912 of 06/08/1986. After the vote of the law of 18/01/1988, the Privatization Commission therefore issued an opinion on 19/02/1988. The complexity of the relationship between the regional banks and the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole has been taken into account, as well as the specific nature of the risks weighing on the whole. It is for this reason that the Commission has set the minimum value of the Caisse Nationale at 7 billion francs.

165. – This valuation gave rise to controversy because it could have been higher. In fact, the Commission relied on the net assets of the Fund which it evaluated at 8.1 billion francs at 31/12/1986. This amount was obtained by adding the State allocation, the consolidated results and the 1986 result. this savings was not assimilated to equity. However, this provision is considered by the Banking Commission as capital for the calculation of prudential ratios, in particular the risk coverage ratio and the reserve requirement ratio. The provision for home savings was also recorded in equity in an information note made available to the public during a financial operation set up by Unicredit, a subsidiary of the Caisse Nationale. This document, endorsed by the Stock Exchange Commission and drafted by the National Fund, specified that these equity capital amounted to 14.12 billion francs. Furthermore, a particular point relating to the nature of the guarantee fund was not the subject of any comment in the Privatization Commission’s estimate. This fund, amounting to 2.4 billion at the end of 1986, made up of contributions from regional mutuals, guarantees deposits in the event of failure of a local or regional mutual. The law provided for its absorption by the National Fund but its amount was not added to that of equity. Conversely, this decision therefore contradicted the specific provisions of the Rural Code applicable to Crédit Agricole. Indeed, it is provided that “in the event of dissolution, the surplus assets [of the common guarantee fund] are allocated to the Crédit Agricole endowment”.

166. – Without taking this controversy into account, on 25/02/1988 the Ministers of Economy and Agriculture issued the decree provided for in article 5 of the law of 18/01/1988. This notably provided for the sale price of Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole shares to employees as well as to the regional mutuals. The price retained is the minimum value proposed by the Privatization Commission. In our opinion, it is the fear of a financial weakening of the regional funds that guided this measure. The substantial objective is to protect the solvency of the regional banks as well as the structure of the banking system as a whole. This appears indisputably because it is provided that the latter do not have to mobilize all of their own funds. Moreover, part of the financing can be achieved through a public call for savings through investment certificates, equity securities or bonds. Finally, a last specific provision, aiming at the same objective, has been organized. With regard to the regional banks of Crédit Agricole, at least 50% of the shares had to be paid in cash, the payment of the balance being scheduled for a later date. Thus, the decree therefore granted time limits to the funds that so wished when their risk coverage ratio was less than 5.5% on 30/06/1987. These were authorized to settle 33.3% of the shares at maturity of one year, 33.3% of the shares at maturity of two years and 33.4% of the shares at maturity of three years, on the anniversary dates of the cash payment. In practice,

167. – This privatization therefore led to the takeover of the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole by the regional banks. The Caisse Nationale was transformed into a public limited company governed by the law of 07/24/1966. Incidentally, the transformation of the status of the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole raised the question of the compatibility of that of the regional banks which are the new owners. Can the latter remain civil companies with variable capital and engage in commercial activities and equity investments that generate profits? In our opinion, these questions remain fundamentally undetermined, but article 625 of the Rural Code, which exempts the Crédit Agricole funds from registration in the trade and companies register, seems sufficient to avoid a more in-depth debate.
Thus, we have demonstrated that the privatization of Crédit Agricole was special.

168. – This was also the case with the privatization of BFCE. The decree of 12/12/1995 authorized the transfer to the private sector of BFCE, in which the State only indirectly holds a majority stake. The operation was carried out by private sale without specifications, with an expert’s report and the opinion of the Privatization Commission. By an opinion of the Minister of Economy and Finance published in the Official Journal of 13/12/1995, Mrs Hagelsteen, State Councillor, was instructed to draw up a report on the conditions and progress of this operation of privatization. The Privatization Commission issued a favorable opinion on Crédit National’s offer.

169. – The Credit Institutions Committee has been seized of the file. It gave its authorization on 12/21/1995 on the condition, however, that Crédit National obtains a solvency ratio of 9.2% after the acquisition. This condition set by the banking regulatory authority was intended to preserve Crédit National’s sound financial situation. The primary objective was indeed the protection of the banking system.

170. – By order of 01/23/1996, on the assent of the Privatization Commission, the Minister authorized the transfer of BFCE to the private sector, thus allowing Crédit National to take control.

171. – Crédit National still had to supplement its own funds to meet the requirements of the CECEI and it had to increase them from 8.85% to 9.2%. To fill this gap, an issue of 500 million perpetual subordinated securities, eligible as quasi-equity in the solvency ratio, was organised. The AGF subscribed to it for 340 million francs. The balance of 140 million francs was covered by the CDC. Ultimately, Crédit National’s Cooke ratio was indeed increased to 9.2%, but its core capital ratio fell from 8.7% to 6.2%. This value was considered insufficient given the range and type of the group’s activities and given its dependence on the cost of refinancing on the market. Crédit national-BFCE’s rating was downgraded by the Standard and Poor’s agencies,

172. – The privatization of SMC did not lead to such a deterioration in the ratings of the buyer because the State carried out several recapitalizations before the sale to the private sector.

173. – The government decided by decree of 26/10/1995 to transfer the State’s stake in the SMC to the private sector through a procedure of transfer by mutual agreement without specifications. At the end of 1996, the Minister appointed Mr. Maugars, Inspector General of Finance, as an independent figure to investigate the privatization file. Several times suspended and resumed, the privatization operation encountered many difficulties, in particular when the Korean group Daewoo proposed to buy out SMC for the symbolic sum of 1 franc.

174. – A government notice dated 04/21/1998 relaunched the procedure for the transfer of SMC by sale by mutual agreement, without specifications but with the obligation for the purchaser to present an industrial recovery project. the bank. The overriding objective was to secure the future of the bank in order to avoid further difficulties. More broadly, the purpose was to protect the structure of the banking system. After competition between four candidates for the takeover of SMC, BNP, Société Générale, Caisse d’épargne Provence-Alpes-Corse and Banque Chaix, a subsidiary of CCF, the latter alone submitted a final offer to ‘purchase. On 12/06/1998, she signed a contract to take over SMC shares.

175. – Following the assent of the Participations and Transfers Commission and the prior authorization of the CECEI, the government decided by decree of 22/10/1998 to transfer ownership of the SMC to the private sector. This transfer took place by sale of the entire capital to Banque Chaix following the last recapitalization of SMC by the State in the amount of 2.9 billion francs. The amount of the transaction, symbolic given the sad state of the bank, was 10 million francs.

176. – It should be noted that while these privatization operations were carried out without specifications, other operations were organized within the framework of calls for tenders on the basis of specifications. Thus, the transfer procedure and the specific obligations to be respected have been specified. These obligations may have varied depending on the objectives sought. It could, in particular, be a temporary inalienability of the securities acquired and a right of pre-emption. Finally, the Minister chose the purchaser(s) based on the offers and guarantees provided, with the assent of the Commission.

177. – This procedure was the source of significant litigation initiated by potential buyers not chosen by the minister. Thus, it is this procedure which was the basis of the appeal brought before the Council of State by Société Générale, BNP and CCF during the privatization of CIC.

178. – Let us first recall the facts. CIC was privatized in 1998 under an off-market procedure. By decree n° 96-681 of 07/30/1996, the Prime Minister decided to transfer from the public sector to the private sector the majority stake held by the State, in the financial company of CIC and the European Union . The Minister of Economy and Finance then chose to carry out this transfer through a tender procedure, governed by specifications. Seven candidates were declared admissible, by the Minister, to submit an offer. Five of these candidates have actually filed a purchase offer. By a decision made public on 23/03/1998 the Minister authorized Société Générale, ABN-Amro and the Banque fédérative du Crédit Mutuel, to the exclusion of BNP and CCF, to continue the selection procedure. In a decision made public on 04/14/1998, the minister appointed the Banque fédérative du Crédit Mutuel as the buyer. By an order of 24/04/1998, it then set the terms of the transfer from the public sector to the private sector.

179. – It is the terms of this transfer which have been the subject of an appeal by certain unsuccessful applicants. Société Générale, BNP and CCF jointly requested, on 12/06/1998, the annulment for abuse of power of various administrative decisions: the decision of the minister declaring admissible the offer of the Banque fédérative du Crédit Mutuel, that of 03/12/1998 of the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee authorizing a possible takeover of Compagnie Financière du CIC et de l’Union Européenne by Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel, the decisions of the Minister for 23 /03 and 14/04/1998, the decree of 24/04/1998 and the opinions issued by the Privatization Commission during the privatization procedure. In summary, the first challenge related to the illegality of the procedure. The second objection was based on the fact that, according to the applicants, the buyer being a mutual bank, its status prohibited it from taking over an AFB bank. Finally, the third argument maintained that the procedure for transfer to the private sector should be based, with regard to the principle of equality, solely on the content of the offers. Thus, the applicants considered first of all that the provisions allowing a transfer according to the off-market procedure had not entered into force. Indeed, the decree of application concerning the cases of implementation of a call for tenders had not been published. However,

Next, the applicants also complained about the takeover by a mutual institution of a bank known as “AFB”. To challenge this choice, they based their argument on a specificity of the banking system. They considered on the one hand, that the provisions of the banking law would have opposed the takeover of a bank affiliated to the AFB by a mutual bank. They also asserted that the provisions governing the operation of Crédit Mutuel, and more particularly those of Article 2 of Ordinance No. 58-966 of 16/10/1958 under the terms of which “the Caisses de Crédit Mutuel exclusively for the purpose of mutual credit”, would have obstructed the takeover by these funds of a credit institution not affiliated to the Crédit Mutuel network. The Council of State refutes the argument. It “appears from the documents in the file that BFCM, the candidate selected by the Minister to acquire the State’s stake in the Compagnie financière du CIC et de l’Union européen, is itself affiliated to the AFB and not to the network of Credit Mutuel”. The solution provided by the Council of State is, moreover, very interesting. In fact, by rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument because BFCM was itself affiliated with AFB, the latter suggests that if the economic entity had been affiliated with the Crédit Mutuel network, the takeover could have been contested. The solution provided by the Council of State is, moreover, very interesting. In fact, by rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument because BFCM was itself affiliated with AFB, the latter suggests that if the economic entity had been affiliated with the Crédit Mutuel network, the takeover could have been contested. The solution provided by the Council of State is, moreover, very interesting. In fact, by rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument because BFCM was itself affiliated with AFB, the latter suggests that if the economic entity had been affiliated with the Crédit Mutuel network, the takeover could have been contested.

Finally, concerning the terms of transfer to the private sector by way of a call for tenders for a State participation in a public company, the applicants maintained that the choice between the candidates could not be legally justified, with regard to the principle of equality, only on the content of their offers. The applicant banks maintained that the specifications did not respect the principle of equality between candidates. Firstly, it did not define with sufficient precision the concepts of ‘firm offer’ and ‘definitive offer’. The same applied to the conditions and limits under which the candidates could modify, when formulating their “final offer”, the content of their “firm offer”. On the other hand, it restricted access to certain information only to candidates admitted to make a “final offer”. The key to reading these expressions is in the specifications. Thus, under the terms of article 5-3 of these specifications, “the firm offer will constitute an irrevocable commitment to acquire the stake sold for a period of six months, subject, where applicable, to any amendments contained in the offer. final”. Similarly, under the terms of article 7-3 of the same specifications “the final offer must include the elements of the firm offer, as well as the draft sales contract. In the event that amendments are proposed to the firm offer or to the draft sales contract, all the necessary justifications must be attached to the final offer”. The Council of State observes that it results from the preceding provisions and, in particular, from the need to justify any amendment made to the firm offer, that each candidate must, as soon as his firm offer is formulated, set out the conditions under which he undertakes irrevocably to acquire, if selected, the transferred interest. It thus clarifies the meaning to be given to the expressions “firm offer” and “definitive offer”. According to the High Court, the applicant is only authorized to adjust his final offer in relation to his firm offer to the strict extent of new elements brought to his attention after the filing of the firm offer within the framework of the organized procedure. by the specifications. Consequently, “the provisions of the specifications,

Other means, linked to the Livret bleu, were also invoked. These included the exclusive distribution of this Livret bleu. In addition, reference was made to the existence of a procedure initiated by the European Commission which would not have been brought to the attention of the Privatization Commission. Both were rejected on the grounds that they had no influence on the regularity of the privatization procedure.

180. – Ultimately, this appeal made before the High Administrative Court by the ousted establishments was an opportunity for the case law to clarify certain points of the procedure for the transfer to the private sector of shares held by the State when this this takes the form of an off-market sale.

181. – These clarifications certainly facilitated the privatization of Banque Hervet. This is the last French bank to have been privatised. The procedure was launched on 11/07/2000 after several previous failed attempts. The government first decided to sell its holdings through a public offering. Finally in November 2000, the latter preferred to opt for a private sale procedure similar to the privatization of CIC.

182. – The State shareholder sold the bank to CCF for 530 million euros. The Ministry of Economy and Finance was therefore not arrested by the majority shareholder of CCF, who is nevertheless British. The State has therefore shown impartiality in the choice of the buyers of Banque Hervet without interfering with nationalist criteria. This seems to mark a pledge of goodwill on the part of the French authorities in the creation of a true single banking market. They chose the proposal that best met the four criteria of the specifications in order to efficiently protect the banking system. This takeover by CCF was a strategic move for HSBC. First, the takeover of CCF in July 2000 enabled it to acquire a banking platform in France. Secondly, the takeover of Banque Hervet strengthened it in France, in particular thanks to geographical complementarity. The CCF was in fact totally absent from the four favorite departments of Banque Hervet.

183. – Having demonstrated the taking into account of banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of control of public banks, we will attempt to highlight the same phenomenon during the acquisition of control by a mutual or cooperative bank.

3/ The taking into account of the banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of control by a mutual or cooperative bank

184. – The cooperative or mutual banks could be considered as having a significant handicap in the acquisition of a European size or even global. Originally, the overriding problem was that they could not carry out cross-shareholdings or pay in shares for their takeovers. Thus, when cash is the only possible method of payment for external growth operations, the equity ratios of the buying mutual banks can only suffer.

185. – However, it should be noted that takeover operations were nevertheless carried out. The external growth of mutual or cooperative banks has even taken on an unexpected scale. Indeed, these have succeeded in acquiring vehicles listed on the stock exchange allowing them to benefit from market capitalizations. For example, Crédit Agricole was able to launch a public offer on Crédit Lyonnais shares thanks to the stock market listing of Crédit Agricole SA.

186. – It is therefore appropriate to highlight the consideration of banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of hybrid control (a) as well as in external growth between mutual banks (b).

a/ Taking account of banking and financial specificity in the acquisition of hybrid control

187. – The definition of hybrid takeover should be clarified. This is a concentration between a mutual bank and a bank of another status. This operation involves taking account of the banking specificity because it concerns two banks belonging to different statutes and being subject to different legal rules. In addition, the takeover is financial because it concerns a mutual bank, with a theoretically disinterested vocation, which binds itself financially to a capitalist company with the aim of growing and reaching a critical size. This specificity has consequences.

188. – Indeed, in joint-stock companies, there is a category of agents specialized in the function of owner: the shareholders. They also have a function of providing capital.

189. – Mutual banks are consumer cooperatives. The property rights are devolved to the members, the members of the mutual, who are contributors of equity, but who in all cases are also part of the clientele. This confusion between members and customers is likely to modify the objective of the company. It is no longer necessary to optimize the situation of the owner of the shares, therefore to maximize the financial profitability, since the latter is also the client. The cooperative is thus, in theory, more oriented towards satisfying the needs of the customers, which can modify the commercial relationship.

190. – I diritti patrimoniali dei soci delle banche popolari sono limitati rispetto a quelli dei soci. Nelle mutue e nelle cooperative i possessori di quote non possono permutarle. Inoltre, le decisioni vengono prese in assemblea generale democraticamente, il che implica che “un uomo corrisponde a un voto”. Pertanto, i diritti di controllo dei membri sui dirigenti sono molto più diluiti che nelle società per azioni, perché è impossibile per un individuo o un gruppo di individui accumulare azioni sufficienti per avere un’influenza significativa sulle decisioni. Nelle banche popolari francesi, tuttavia, questa regola non è sempre applicata alla lettera, ma i diritti di voto di un membro, anche istituzionale, sono limitati. Questa limitazione dei diritti dei soci si manifesta anche con la limitazione del rendimento del capitale. Questa non assume la forma di dividendi distribuiti o quella di un aumento del valore della quota, ma quella di interessi pagati. È l’assemblea generale che decide annualmente il tasso di remunerazione delle azioni, su proposta del consiglio di amministrazione. Rispetto alle società per azioni, la remunerazione dei titolari del capitale appare quindi inferiore.

191. – Di conseguenza, vi è una differenza importante tra la natura giuridica del socio e quella del socio.

192. – Queste acquisizioni ibride portano ad una parziale apertura della struttura mutualistica grazie ai legami finanziari. Gli azionisti entrano nella struttura mutualistica e potenzialmente hanno un diritto alla remunerazione maggiore rispetto ai soci. Logicamente, l’ingresso dei soci in questi gruppi pone il problema del riconoscimento dei soci. In effetti, non hanno mai ricavato alcun valore dalle loro azioni. Inoltre, tali operazioni comportano l’utilizzo di fondi raccolti dalle banche dai loro membri. Così, quando il Crédit Agricole ha preso il controllo del Crédit Lyonnais, è stato denunciato questo uso massiccio del denaro raccolto dai membri, attraverso le banche regionali.

193. – In definitiva, si può ritenere che il Credito Cooperativo perda la sua anima aprendosi al capitalismo. In effetti, si allontana spesso dalle sue missioni originali. Correlativamente, sarebbe logico che i membri non appoggino più la politica del gruppo, che abbandona i valori che hanno preceduto la sua costituzione.

194. – Alcuni hanno considerato queste acquisizioni ibride come l’inizio di un processo di demutualizzazione strisciante. In altre parole, il mutualismo bancario sarebbe autodistruttivo.

195. – Tuttavia, sembra che i gruppi mutualistici siano riusciti a conciliare strutture mutualistiche e capitalistiche.

196. – Il Crédit Agricole ha assunto in particolare il controllo di Indosuez nel 1996. Questa operazione è stata un’opportunità per la banca verde, fino ad allora incentrata in Francia sulle sue attività tradizionali di finanziamento dell’agricoltura, delle PMI e dei privati, per stabilirsi in mestieri e mercati completamente nuovi per Esso. Così, è intervenuto con la clientela di grandi aziende internazionali, nell’attività di investment banking all’estero o anche nel finanziamento di beni e progetti, terreno di caccia tradizionale delle banche di investimento. Per raggiungere i suoi obiettivi, Crédit Agricole ha sfruttato la presenza internazionale di Indosuez. Infatti, se il gruppo conta oggi molti stabilimenti diretti nel mondo tramite filiali o filiali, ciò è in gran parte merito del contributo di Indosuez. Di conseguenza, da un lato, esisteva una banca generalista locale, con una cultura mutualistica e una struttura molto decentrata. Dall’altro, una banca d’affari orientata alle grandi imprese e alle grandi operazioni finanziarie. La sua cultura era orientata al profitto. Tuttavia, Crédit Agricole è riuscito a combinare la sua struttura mutualistica con una struttura capitalista, evitando grandi conflitti.

197. – In 1997, the Banques Populaires group took control of Natexis while retaining a free float allowing the bank to be listed on the stock exchange. Natexis-Banques Populaires has become the cooperative group’s wholesale bank. The banking group is therefore made up of three levels: the regional banks, the Banques Populaires federal bank and the capital structure that is Natexis-Banques Populaires. More specifically, the Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires owns more than half of Natexis-Banques Populaires. The regional banks, Casden Banque Populaire and Crédit Coopératif hold 98% of the Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires. In addition, the regional banks have a 25% stake in Natexis-Banques Populaires. In total, 77% of the capital of Natexis-Banques Populaires is held by the Banques Populaires group. The latter succeeded in reconciling a mutualist and capitalist structure. The chairman of the group also insists on the possibility given to members to also become shareholders of the structure to which they are already attached. Shareholders and members are therefore now part of the life of the group.

198. – Finally, Crédit Mutuel acquired CIC in 1998. The latter is an AFB bank listed on the stock exchange. However, Crédit Mutuel has not demutualized from the inside insofar as the control it holds allows it to ensure that the cooperative logic prevails over the subsidiary logic. According to Mr. Etienne Pfimlin, President of the National Confederation of Crédit Mutuel, it does not seem healthy to erect “Chinese walls” which would prevent cooperative banks from equipping themselves with the tools necessary to adapt to a competitive environment. According to him, the prosperity of the subsidiaries has no other justification than to reinforce that of the parent companies to enable them to continue to provide the best services to the members.

199. – We have just highlighted the consideration of the banking and financial specificity in the acquisitions of hybrid control. The same phenomenon can be observed in the external growth of mutual banks.

b/ Taking account of banking and financial specificity in the external growth of mutual banks

200. – The concentration of mutual banking groups is specific. To make them grow, it is enough that another group adheres to them. This is how the Crédit Coopératif group was integrated into the Banques Populaires group in 2002.

201. – Thus, the merger of the two groups was based on the implementation of the potential of their cooperative status coupled with the provisions of the banking law applicable to mutualist networks.

202. – Crédit Coopératif therefore adopted the legal form of a Banque Populaire limited cooperative company and was affiliated as the parent company. It is therefore associated with the destiny of the group through a stake in the capital and the deliberative bodies of the Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires. The Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires replaced the Caisse centrale de Crédit Coopératif as the central body of the Crédit Coopératif group for all of its affiliates.

203. – Toutefois, aux termes de l’article L. 512-11 du code monétaire et financier, la Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires est chargée :

1/ définir la politique et les orientations stratégiques du réseau Banque Populaire ;
2/ négocier et conclure des conventions nationales et internationales pour le compte du réseau Banque Populaire ;
3/ agréer les dirigeants des Banques Populaires et définir les conditions de cet agrément ;
4/ approuver les statuts des Banques Populaires et leurs modifications ;
5/ assurer la centralisation des excédents de trésorerie des Banques Populaires et leur refinancement ;
6/ prendre toute mesure utile à l’organisation, au bon fonctionnement et au développement du réseau Banque Populaire et appeler les contributions nécessaires à l’accomplissement de ses missions d’organe central.

204. – Enfin, aux termes de l’article L. 512-12 du code monétaire et financier, la Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires doit prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour garantir la liquidité et la solvabilité du réseau Banque Populaire en définissant et mettant en œuvre les mécanismes internes de solidarité financière nécessaires. Ces dispositions concernant les Banques Populaires visent plus largement à protéger la stabilité du système bancaire.

205. – Par conséquent, cet organe central unique a une mission politique et une mission financière. Cette structure est la synthèse entre une organisation politique, dans laquelle les dirigeants sont les représentants des sociétaires, et la direction, puisque le conseil d’administration de la Banque fédérale est composé des présidents et directeurs généraux des Banques Populaires.

206. – Compte tenu des prérogatives étendues de la Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires, celle-ci exerce incontestablement ce que l’on peut qualifier de contrôle sui generis sur le Crédit Coopératif. Notre argumentation est confirmée par le ministre de l’Economie. Selon ce dernier, « cette opération, en ce qu’elle entraîne le transfert du contrôle du groupe Crédit Coopératif au profit de la Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires, constitue une concentration au sens de l’article L. 430-1 du Code de commerce. ” .

207. – Il est clair que les reprises que nous venons d’étudier sont exclusives. Certaines reprises peuvent être réalisées conjointement par deux établissements de crédit.

§ 2 : Prise en compte des spécificités bancaires et financières dans l’acquisition du contrôle conjoint

208. – Les OPA sont des formes privilégiées de concentration entre banques. L’objectif est d’atteindre la « taille critique » qui permet de mieux résister à la concurrence en s’unissant. Elles correspondent à des situations où aucun des partenaires ne souhaite se retirer du marché, ou dans lesquelles aucun des deux n’a les moyens d’acquérir la part de l’autre.

209. – Ces mécanismes permettent de limiter les risques d’investissement des banques, alors que leurs ressources en capital sont rares et chères.

210. – La prise en compte de la spécificité bancaire et financière se vérifie à travers les notions permettant la qualification d’OPA (A) ainsi que dans la réalisation de l’OPA (B).

A/ La prise en compte de la spécificité bancaire et financière dans les concepts permettant la qualification de prise de contrôle en commun

211. – Concerted action constitutes an element of the definition of joint control (1) making it possible to highlight the takeover control (2).

1/ Action in concert, an element of the definition of joint control

212. – Action in concert is subject to a definition in company law (a). The definition of banking law seems different, which reflects the consideration of banking specificity (b).

a/ The definition of company law

213. – Since the adoption of the law on new economic regulations, concerted action constitutes an element of the definition of joint control.

214. – The control exercised by a concert results from a double presumption. Indeed, article L. 233-10 of the Commercial Code, modified by the law of 11/12/2001, is used to presume the existence of an action in concert. Persons who have entered into an agreement with a view to acquiring or transferring voting rights or with a view to exercising voting rights, in order to implement a policy vis-à-vis the Company “. Such an agreement is presumed to exist: between a company, the chairman of its board of directors and its managing directors or the members of its management board or its managers; between a company and the companies it controls within the meaning of Article L. 233-3; between companies controlled by the same person or persons; between the partners of a simplified joint-stock company with regard to the companies that it controls. Persons acting in concert are jointly and severally bound by the obligations imposed on them by law and regulations.

b/ The interference of banking specificity

215. – The notion of concerted action is also defined by banking law in Article 4 of Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996. The latter provides that “persons who have entered into an agreement with a view to acquiring or transferring voting rights or with a view to exercising rights to implement a common policy vis-à-vis the subject undertaking”.

216. – At first sight, the wording of this article seems to be close to that given in company law. However, by rigorously analyzing this provision, the differences appear significant and highlight a specificity of banking law.

217. – First of all, the law of 11/12/2001 on urgent economic and financial reform measures modified the definition of concerted action in company law. A fundamental comma has been added after the words “for the purpose of exercising voting rights”. This reform clarified the wording of Article L. 233-10 of the Commercial Code. It is therefore now certain that company law places the incident relating to the common policy as a common factor of the two objects of the agreement. Thus, it is distinguished, among the agreements with a view to acquiring or transferring voting rights, those whose purpose is to implement a common policy and those which do not have this purpose.

218. – However, banking law has not undergone the same modification. There is therefore a difficulty of interpretation concerning the purpose of the linking of the words “to implement a common policy”. The text refers to two types of agreements, one with a view to acquiring or transferring voting rights, the other with a view to exercising rights. In the presence of this distinction, it is possible to consider that the incidental “to implement a common policy” relates exclusively to agreements with a view to exercising rights. From this, it may follow that all agreements to acquire or dispose of constitute actions in concert, without there being any reason to ask whether their purpose is to implement a common policy.

219. – Admittedly, it may seem excessive to take advantage of such a formal observation. However, it confirms an analysis authorized by Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996. The latter, considering action in concert, specifies “in order to exercise rights…”. However, company law refers to the exercise of voting rights. The difference is essential. Once again, it seems that banking law retains an extensive definition of the agreements concerned. It is not just about agreements to exercise voting rights to implement a common policy. It could be contracts made between people allowing them to benefit from certain rights within the bank concerned.

220. – The interference of banking specificity is therefore evident in the definition of legal concepts. In addition, the specific definition of banking law logically entails a broad application of Article 2 of Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996. Indeed, it provides that any person or group of persons acting together must obtain authorization from the CECEI when a stake greater than one-tenth of the voting rights is acquired or sold. Its authorization is fundamental because if the CECEI opposes the operation, the project will have to be abandoned. This authorization is intended to protect the banking system. The CECEI verifies that there is consultation between the parties in order to avoid conflicts between shareholders and guarantee the stability of the entity. So, it makes its authorization subject to the conclusion of a formal agreement guaranteeing the cohesion of the block of shareholders. Finally, he ensures the existence of a clear and viable industrial project, always with the aim of avoiding disruption of the banking system. Indeed, acting in concert can result in a joint takeover.

2/ Qualification of joint control resulting from concerted action

221. – Not every concert can constitute control. Article L. 233-3 paragraph 3 of the Commercial Code resulting from the law relating to new economic regulations and modified by the law of 11/12/2001 allows the exercise of joint control to be presumed. This provides that “two or more persons acting in concert are considered to jointly control another when they in fact determine the decisions taken at the general meeting”. The objective of the legislator was thus to introduce a provision aimed at recognizing the existence of control held in concert. The law therefore adjusts to the realities of power within societies.

222. – In banking law, there is no provision defining joint control. However, the persons considered to be acting together are not apprehended in the same way in banking law and company law. This lack of banking law is a source of questioning.

223. – A fundamental question therefore arises in the context of joint banking subsidiaries. To what extent can joint control be qualified?

224. – In general, on this issue, no fundamental divergence has emerged between company law, banking law, securities law and competition law. We can therefore highlight the criteria of joint control without having to distinguish between these different rights.

225. – There is a joint takeover when the controlling companies must agree on the major decisions concerning the controlled company.

Thus, there is joint control, when two partners each own half of the capital of a joint venture, each control half of the voting rights in meetings and therefore have the right to appoint half of the members of the management bodies. In such a situation, the partners are obliged to come to an agreement in order to avoid reciprocal blocking during votes on decisions concerning the activity of the joint venture. However, joint control is likely to exist, even in situations where the distribution of capital is not egalitarian, when a sufficiently significant common interest emerges from the analysis of all the factual and legal circumstances. .

Such reasoning, which takes into account all the legal and factual circumstances for the purpose of recognizing a minority partner’s participation in joint control, must be generalized to joint ventures under the influence of more than two partners. In its Communication on concentration and cooperation operations, the European Commission thus indicates that a joint venture may be controlled by a multiplicity of undertakings when the latter are able to bring together a majority of the capital, seats or votes in the joint undertaking’s decision-making bodies. However, joint control can only be presumed if the factual or legal circumstances, in particular a convergence of economic interests, tend to demonstrate the existence of a deliberate common policy of the parent undertakings with regard to the joint undertaking. In practice, this is deduced from the existence of veto rights obliging each of the companies to agree on the management of the joint venture.

226. – On the other hand, it should be specified that a company would not be considered to exercise joint control if it benefited from prerogatives aimed solely at protecting its financial interests. It is clear that in practice such a distinction is not without posing delicate problems of appreciation. Indeed, the question of the existence or not of joint control does not always call for an obvious answer in practice, given the complexity of certain factual and legal situations.

227. – The above developments show that this process is halfway between financial links and cooperation agreements. Indeed, banks that control joint subsidiaries are not necessarily financially linked. However, financial links still exist, but only between the parent bank and the subsidiary. We are therefore faced with a funnel-shaped diagram and not the classic pyramid-shaped diagram with a bank having several subsidiaries. This assertion will appear very clearly in the study of the realization of the joint takeover.

B/ The taking into account of banking and financial specificity in the realization of the joint takeover

228. – It is necessary to demonstrate the taking into account of the banking and financial specificity in the negotiations of joint takeover of control (1) as well as than the heterogeneity of situations in the banking system (2).

1/ Taking account of the banking and financial specificity in the negotiations for the joint takeover

229. – The Governor of the Banque de France intervened on several occasions to force negotiations so that banking law would be respected.

230. – For example, in the 1990s, Banque Pallas found itself in great difficulty because of the real estate crisis. An audit was carried out in 1991. The Salustro report revealed that out of the 4.9 billion francs in assets whose pledges were appraised, the potential risk of loss was 882 million francs.

The bank being in a catastrophic situation, a meeting was organized in disaster at the Governor of the Banque de France with the main shareholders of Pallas Holding, “to deal with the most urgent and lend money to the bank”. The Governor of the Banque de France demanded that the solvency ratios, provided for by banking law, be respected by the bank. He put pressure on the latter to find a solution quickly.

Pallas therefore undertook to get closer to Bred by creating a joint subsidiary. The operation was carried out quickly without the union chamber of the Banques Populaires, the supervisory body of Bred, being informed. This body acts as the central body of the Banques Populaires. As such, it should be remembered that it guarantees the security of the system, of the deposits made in the various establishments that are members of the network and performs inspection functions. The Credit Institutions Committee gave its agreement to the merger without seeking the agreement of the Chambre Syndicale. Indeed, at that time, he did not need the formal, legal agreement of a third party to decide. It is customary for its members to ensure that the establishment concerned informs its supervisory body. The Committee did ask Bred to talk about its project to the president of the trade union chamber, but the latter did so very late. When the president was made aware, there was nothing more he could do. He was presented with a fait accompli. The flexibility of the regulations has helped the Banque de France, which has acted to ensure that this operation is carried out. Indeed, it wanted to avoid the failure of a bank linked to the real estate crisis.

Thus, on 01/20/1992, a protocol was signed between the two banks. This provided for the creation of a joint subsidiary: Bred-Pallas Financement Immobilier. Bred held 51% via Cofibred, Banque Pallas France 49%.

231. – This example raises a question. To which group should the entity whose joint control is negotiated belong? This question cannot be given a definitive answer. It should be demonstrated that behind the appearance of unity of this notion hides a heterogeneity of situations.

2/ The heterogeneity of joint control situations in the banking system

232. – The operations allowing the implementation of joint control are heterogeneous. Banks can decide to establish an equal or unequal control. Thus, Mr. Dupuy suggests examining the representation of mothers on the board of directors of the subsidiary, in other words to observe interpersonal relations.

233. – However, for Mr. Dupuy, interpersonal relations must be treated with caution. Indeed, while there is no doubt that they indicate the presence of influence in the broad sense, their ability to reveal command relationships is more doubtful. Unquestionably, everything depends on the attitude adopted by the participants in the board of directors and supervisors. However, this attitude obviously depends on the objectives pursued by the companies or organizations represented.

234. – According to Mr. Parent, we would be in the presence of a kind of super group where the links are solid but leave a lot of freedom. Indeed, the parent banks must work together to make a subsidiary work together, the activity and strategy of which they will jointly determine. It could therefore be considered that the entity formed by the partner banks and their joint subsidiary constitutes a single group.

235. – Some authors do not agree with this opinion, in particular Mr. Ruffini. The latter writes that there is no question of confusing the joint subsidiary of several banks with the concept of a group.

236. – For our part, we believe that the theories set out above are correct. However, to have an accurate view, it is necessary to take into consideration the heterogeneity of joint takeover operations.

237. – Indeed, some of them are intended to allow the development of banking activities that are still non-existent or even not very widespread. In this case, the joint venture constitutes, without any hesitation, the joint subsidiary of several groups. In banking, this very flexible mode of development has been very successful. Groupama and Société Générale signed an agreement in 2001 creating a common multi-channel bank. The 8 million members and customers of Groupama and the individual customers of Société Générale thus have access to the products offered by the two groups. The creation of this joint bank therefore enabled Groupama to develop its banking activities after it had just failed to take over Banque Hervet.

238. – The joint venture may also combine the majority of the activities of two or more groups. It seems that the operation then leads to the creation of a super group. This is probably often a common core relating to certain activities, while other activities are carried out by the participating groups themselves. However, the common core is generally of considerable importance and the turnover of the joint subsidiary often exceeds that of the activities of its members. This type of joint venture has been successful at the national level.

239. – Let us mention the creation of the joint venture called Compagnie financière Eulia. The latter groups together the majority of the assets of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations as well as of l’Ecureuil. During his hearing by the Finance Committee of the National Assembly on 06/27/2001, the managing director of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations insisted on the scope of the merger between his institution and the Caisses d’Epargne. The objective is “to reach critical mass on a global scale in the sectors of banking, finance, insurance and markets, marked by fierce competition. While the trend is towards concentration, it was appropriate to bring together the activities, assets and teams of the two groups in the competitive banking sector, in order to pursue European development from a very strong domestic base”. The new entity therefore constitutes a powerful French public and semi-public banking center.

240. – The implementation of the operation required the establishment of three major working groups. The first group worked on finalizing the transaction. He drew up the contribution agreements and prepared the files for the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee, the specific body for controlling the structure of the banking system. The second group worked on setting up the common company, in particular its organization, its services and its operation. This team had to reflect on the mode of governance of the holding company vis-à-vis its subsidiaries. Finally, the third group piloted the strategic project. He had to establish a two-year business plan providing for many synergies on existing businesses.

241. – The two groups only pooled their competitive activities. The company is 50.1% owned by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and 49.9% by Ecureuil. This group, staffed by 48,000 people, controls a perimeter of 17.7 billion euros in equity. The joint venture provides strategic management of the financial businesses of the two former groups and holds the interests they have in common in four markets: retail banking, investment and corporate banking, insurance and real estate. . For retail banking, the groups contributed all the stakes held in the specialized subsidiaries and the cooperative investment certificates issued by the Caisses d’Epargne network. The investment and corporate banking division was supplied by 53% of CDC Ixis, subsidiary of the CDC, through interests of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne in CDC Ixis Capital Market and in CDC Ixis Asset Management as well as through the financial division of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne. The capital markets businesses have been grouped together in a single CDC Ixis division. The insurance branch has been supplemented by the participation of the CGE in Ecureuil Vie and its surety company, SACCEF, as well as the participations of the two groups in Ecureuil Iard. Lastly, activity in the real estate branch was made up of 40% of Crédit Foncier de France held by the CGE and the subsidiaries jointly held by the two partners. through investments of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne in CDC Ixis Capital Market and in CDC Ixis Asset Management as well as by the financial division of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne. The capital markets businesses have been grouped together in a single CDC Ixis division. The insurance branch has been supplemented by the participation of the CGE in Ecureuil Vie and its surety company, SACCEF, as well as the participations of the two groups in Ecureuil Iard. Lastly, activity in the real estate branch was made up of 40% of Crédit Foncier de France held by the CGE and the subsidiaries jointly held by the two partners. through investments of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne in CDC Ixis Capital Market and in CDC Ixis Asset Management as well as by the financial division of the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne. The capital markets businesses have been grouped together in a single CDC Ixis division. The insurance branch has been supplemented by the participation of the CGE in Ecureuil Vie and its surety company, SACCEF, as well as the participations of the two groups in Ecureuil Iard. Lastly, activity in the real estate branch was made up of 40% of Crédit Foncier de France held by the CGE and the subsidiaries jointly held by the two partners. The insurance branch has been supplemented by the participation of the CGE in Ecureuil Vie and its surety company, SACCEF, as well as the participations of the two groups in Ecureuil Iard. Lastly, activity in the real estate branch was made up of 40% of Crédit Foncier de France held by the CGE and the subsidiaries jointly held by the two partners. The insurance branch has been supplemented by the participation of the CGE in Ecureuil Vie and its surety company, SACCEF, as well as the participations of the two groups in Ecureuil Iard. Lastly, activity in the real estate branch was made up of 40% of Crédit Foncier de France held by the CGE and the subsidiaries jointly held by the two partners.

242. – This concentration operation enabled the new entity to offer very diversified products. The latter was thus able to offer a full range of financial services: from consumer credit to home loans, including personal loans, life insurance, mutual funds and traditional personal insurance products. The lack of integration, optimization and strategy from which the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation and l’Ecureuil undeniably suffered in the face of integrated financial entities such as BNP-Paribas or Dresdner-Allianz has therefore been able to be resolved. In addition, the creation of this joint venture made it possible to significantly increase the concentration of the French banking system. Finally, this association has opened the door to new concentrations. These have, in particular,

Section 2: Merger operations

243. – Ces opérations découlent de la pratique, puis sont reconnues par la jurisprudence. Une première définition de la fusion est issue d’un arrêt de la chambre commerciale de la Cour de cassation du 28/01/1946. Ensuite, la loi du 24/07/1966 sur les sociétés commerciales a consacré quelques articles aux fusions et scissions, mais uniquement pour les SARL et les SA. Ces dispositions ont été modifiées et complétées par les lois du 04/01/1978 et 05/01/1988 qui ont étendu la possibilité d’utiliser ces opérations à toutes les sociétés.

244. – L’ensemble de ces textes permet de définir un ensemble cohérent de règles permettant le traitement juridique des opérations de fusion. Ainsi, les opérations de fusion sont généralement définies par l’article 1844-4 du Code civil, qui a vocation à s’appliquer à toutes les sociétés.

245. – A côté de la fusion, il y a la scission. Cette opération consiste en un apport d’actifs à deux ou plusieurs sociétés, la société scindée disparaissant.

246. – A ces opérations s’ajoute l’apport partiel d’actifs soumis au régime de la scission, sur option. Cette dernière permet à une entreprise d’apporter une partie de son patrimoine à une autre, à condition que cette dernière constitue une branche d’activité indépendante. S’opère alors une transmission universelle des droits, biens et obligations qui s’attachent à cette branche d’activité. Mais il reste une différence essentielle par rapport à une scission : la société qui réalise cette opération ne disparaît pas. Toutefois, cette opération peut être soumise à la procédure de scission. Cependant, le régime de la scission est très proche de la fusion, les techniques de transmission des actifs étant similaires. Nous n’étudierons donc pas spécifiquement ces deux dernières techniques.

247. – Enfin, les opérations de dissolution par fusion de biens permettent à l’associé unique de recevoir la totalité de l’actif de la société dont il détient la totalité des actions sur simple déclaration faite au greffe du tribunal de commerce. Cette opération permet de réaliser une transmission universelle de patrimoine avec un formalisme simplifié par rapport aux fusions dites simplifiées. L’absorption d’une filiale détenue à 100 % bénéficie ainsi d’un régime simplifié prévu à l’article L. 236-11 du Code de commerce. La dissolution par regroupement d’actifs permet la disparition des filiales détenues à 100 % sans qu’il soit nécessaire de convoquer une assemblée générale extraordinaire de la société absorbante, sans l’intervention d’un commissaire aux apports et sans accord de fusion, à la différence d’une fusion simplifiée. Lorsqu’une société est devenue actionnaire unique d’une de ses filiales, le recours à la consolidation de patrimoine lui permet d’appréhender, au moyen d’un formalisme simplifié, l’ensemble du patrimoine de la société dissoute sans sa liquidation. Nous ne développerons pas ce mode de restructuration car ses effets sont équivalents à ceux d’une fusion. De même, nous n’aborderons pas les « fusions à l’anglaise » qui ne sont qu’un mode d’apport de parts sociales soumis à un régime particulier en matière de droits d’enregistrement. Nous ne développerons pas ce mode de restructuration car ses effets sont équivalents à ceux d’une fusion. De même, nous n’aborderons pas les « fusions à l’anglaise » qui ne sont qu’un mode d’apport de parts sociales soumis à un régime particulier en matière de droits d’enregistrement. Nous ne développerons pas ce mode de restructuration car ses effets sont équivalents à ceux d’une fusion. De même, nous n’aborderons pas les « fusions à l’anglaise » qui ne sont qu’un mode d’apport de parts sociales soumis à un régime particulier en matière de droits d’enregistrement.

248. – Ainsi, seul le cadre juridique de la fusion nous retiendra. Celui-ci comporte trois systèmes occupant en quelque sorte trois cercles concentriques. Le régime « rudimentaire » est représenté par l’article 1844-4 du Code civil. Le régime de droit commun est applicable à toutes les sociétés commerciales définies par les articles L. 236-1 à L. 236-6 du Code de commerce. Enfin, le régime « développé » est applicable aux fusions entre sociétés anonymes prévues par les articles L. 236-8 à L. 236-22 du code de commerce. Le cadre juridique des fusions a longtemps été différent selon qu’il s’agissait d’une fusion entre banques AFB ou d’une fusion entre banques coopératives. Les premières étaient soumises à la loi du 24/07/1966, c’est-à-dire au régime de droit commun mais surtout, compte tenu de l’importance de ces banques, au régime « développé ». Ces derniers étaient soumis au régime « rudimentaire » que représente l’article 1844-4 du Code civil, notamment pour les Caisses régionales de Crédit Agricole. Cette disposition législative a lourdement pesé sur les opérations de fusion des caisses régionales. Elle a permis de souligner, une fois de plus, la prise en compte de la spécificité bancaire dans ces instruments de concentration.

249. – In fact, before 1984, there were more than thirty different statuses of credit institutions, often giving their beneficiaries a monopoly on the exercise of certain activities, frequently accompanied by tax and financial advantages. This banking specificity has been the subject of a reform. The banking law of 01/24/1984 partially unified banking statutes and recognized the universal vocation of credit institutions. This measure favored the process of concentration by limiting the number of existing statutes. This relative trivialization of statutes was of paramount importance for the organization of the profession. Indeed, once they are no longer subject to a special legal regime,

250. – However, despite this unification of banking statutes, this law does not have a totally universal vocation. It is a compromise law that respects the various interests involved. Thus, if a unique legal framework has been established, this does not mean that the statutory specificities of cooperative or mutual banks have disappeared. This therefore necessarily has an impact on banking concentrations.

251. – Since credit institutions cannot freely choose their status without depending on a parliamentary or administrative decision, mergers of banks belonging to different legal statuses are problematic. Nevertheless, such operations remain possible but their implementation is so complex that they are generally carried out between credit institutions of the same statutory nature.

252. – Logically, this coexistence of different statuses within credit institutions leads to a distinction between mergers of commercial banks (§ 1) and mergers of mutual or cooperative banks (§ 2).

§ 1: Mergers of commercial banks

253. – The legal regime applicable to these mergers was modified by the law of 05/01/1988. This development was justified by the desire to harmonize French legislation with the provisions contained in European directives.

254. – This law certainly favored the process of concentration in the banking system. We give as proof of this the large number of bank mergers after 1988, whereas this number was much lower previously.

Thus, Compagnie Financière de CIC merged with Banque de l’Union Européenne in 1990. Sogebanque was absorbed by Société Générale in 1991. Banque Gravereau was also absorbed by Société Générale in 1992. BFCE and the Crédit National gave birth to Natexis in 1995. Compagnie Bancaire, Compagnie Financière de Paribas and Banque Paribas merged in 1998. Finally, BNP and Paribas merged in 2000.

255. – Compared to previous provisions, the 1988 law has the merit first of all of providing a definition of merger. This is now defined as the transmission by one or more companies of their assets to an existing company or to a new company that they constitute.

256. – La fusion entre deux ou plusieurs sociétés emporte transmission universelle de l’actif de la société absorbée au profit de la société absorbante ou de la société nouvelle créée à l’occasion de la fusion.

257. – En outre, la société absorbée est systématiquement dissoute, sans qu’il soit nécessaire de procéder à la liquidation de cette société. Cependant, il convient de noter qu’il existe ici un conflit entre le droit des sociétés et le droit bancaire. En effet, cette dernière prévoit qu’en cas de fusion, l’établissement de crédit voit son agrément retiré et entre en liquidation. La loi du 02/07/1996 n’a pas résolu ce problème. Elle indique seulement, à ce sujet, que l’établissement ne peut effectuer que les opérations bancaires et de placement strictement nécessaires au règlement de sa situation. Ce dernier texte reste donc imprécis et peut impliquer que cette opération entraîne la liquidation de l’établissement de crédit. Il y a donc ici conflit de lois internes. Selon nous,

258. – Di conseguenza, l’applicazione distributiva del diritto societario e del diritto bancario è delicata. Tuttavia, è necessario riuscire a tenere conto della specificità bancaria durante il processo di riconciliazione degli asset, sia che riguardi il periodo precedente alla fusione (A) sia la decisione di fusione stessa (B).

A/ Il periodo precedente la fusione

259. – Il periodo precedente la fusione si articola in due fasi distinte. Una prima fase, di durata variabile, non è altro che una fase di riconciliazione (1). La seconda fase è un modo per le aziende di materializzare il loro desiderio di fondersi. Questa fase è l’occasione per redigere e sottoscrivere il progetto di fusione (2).

1/ Fusioni aziendali

260. – La fase delle società richiedenti la fusione varia notevolmente da una fusione all’altra. Inoltre, varia sia nella sua durata che nel suo contenuto.

261. – Cosa c’è in comune, infatti, tra la fusione di due società che non si conoscono e la fusione di due controllate nell’ambito della ristrutturazione di gruppo imposta dalla capogruppo. Nel primo caso è praticamente necessario prendere contatto e fare conoscenza. Nel secondo caso, invece, si può arrivare molto rapidamente alla firma del progetto di fusione, come avvenne durante la ristrutturazione del gruppo bancario Lazard.

262. – Questa fase di fusione presenta due aspetti: da un lato le trattative intersocietarie (a) e, dall’altro, i frequenti interventi delle autorità pubbliche che costituiscono una specificità bancaria (b).

a/ Trattative interaziendali

263. – Le fusioni aziendali sono operazioni a geometria variabile. Le società che partecipano a una fusione possono essere estremamente numerose o possono essercene solo due. Allo stesso modo possono avvenire fusioni tra società di diversa dimensione, struttura, redditività o attività.

264. – Giuridicamente la fusione può avvenire tra società di diversa forma. Inoltre, una società in liquidazione può partecipare ad un’operazione di fusione a condizione, però, che la ripartizione del patrimonio di tale società tra i soci non sia stata oggetto di un avvio di esecuzione.

265. – Quali che siano le differenze tra le società che si uniscono, la fase negoziale non è soggetta ad alcun preciso formalismo giuridico. Le società organizzano quindi liberamente i termini della loro fusione.

266. – Questa fase di riavvicinamento è spesso segreta, almeno inizialmente. La segretezza è pienamente giustificata nel sistema bancario. In effetti, le banche sono generalmente quotate in borsa. Nella maggior parte delle riconciliazioni bancarie, questa fase è quindi rimasta segreta per non provocare perturbazioni nei mercati finanziari.

267. – Il contenuto di questa fase di fusione è estremamente variabile da una fusione all’altra. In alcuni casi, questa fase dà luogo allo svolgimento di studi volti a comprendere meglio le aziende coinvolte: diagnosi commerciale, valutazione degli attivi bancari, audit sociale, analisi finanziaria, ecc. Questa diagnosi dovrebbe consentire alle aziende di determinare se stanno perseguendo o non la fusione avviata e, in tal caso, decidere quale sarà il miglior supporto legale.

268. – The lawyer must make the most judicious choice and for this he must carry out an interdisciplinary analysis. Correlatively, it must take into account the specificity of the banking activity, as it is obvious that the efficient choice of the instrument of concentration will be different from that which could have been selected in another economic sector. For example, in the context of the takeover of a structure with a human component, specialized in mergers and acquisitions, the merger may not be a good decision. Indeed, imposing a culture on this type of structure would lead to destroying it in favor of a homogeneity that would have no meaning. The bank’s essential human resources would be forced to resign. Gold, it is essential to note that the conservation of human heritage is fundamental in the banking sector. Thus, it seems more interesting, in the case presented, to adopt another strategy in order to avoid endangering the entity concerned.

269. – It is therefore generally at this stage that the decision is made whether or not to move towards a merger. If this is the case, the representatives of the banks continue the negotiation phase by endeavoring to establish the essential conditions of the operation. This supposes the evaluation of the banks in presence (α) and the determination of the parity (β).

α/ Taking account of banking and financial specificity in the evaluation of the entities involved

270. – The evaluation of the entities involved is certainly one of the most difficult problems to resolve in terms of mergers. Indeed, it is necessary to determine the respective weight of each company. It is therefore necessary to proceed with the evaluation of the companies involved, seeking to get as close as possible to the value representative of their economic reality. To do so, it is necessary to take into consideration the specificity of banks compared to traditional companies.

271. – There are many methods for valuing banks, in particular:
– valuation at book value;
– valuation at market value;
– valuation at net asset value;
– valuation using the earnings capitalization method;
– valuation based on cash flows;
– evaluation based on forecasts of activity or results;
– evaluation based on the mathematical value;
– valuation at value in use;
– valuation at insurance value;
– the valuation based on the corrected net assets…

272. – In matters of mergers, there are no rigid methods to be followed in order to assess companies. It is advisable to retain several evaluation criteria without their number being excessive. The criteria retained must be selected in such a way as not to duplicate each other. The valuation methods must be applied in the same way to the different companies involved. The criteria selected must be significant. The forecast results can only be used as a valuation method under certain technical conditions guaranteeing the reasonable nature of the valuations. Similarly, the use of discounts, fixed allowances or weighting coefficients is rejected.

273. – The diversity of criteria used to assess companies can be a source of dispute, particularly between majority and minority shareholders. If this evaluation is a source of dispute, it is because it is a delicate exercise. The complexity is all the more marked in the banking system because of the existence of banking specificities. Indeed, some criteria for evaluating banks differ from ordinary companies. Four of them are particularly important: net banking income, the Cooke ratio, the evolution of deposits and the “return on equity”. The net banking income is the equivalent of the turnover of a traditional company. These are the interest margin, commissions and fees. To judge its evolution and the orientations of the bank, it is necessary to analyze the net banking income of each of the four main business lines: retail banking, financial services, private banking and asset management as well as investment banking. The second important criterion is the Cooke ratio which describes the solvency of the establishment. This is the ratio between equity and outstanding loans. It must be at least 4% for the ratio of “hard” equity and weighted assets. It must be 8% for the ratio of total equity and weighted assets. The evolution of deposits indicates, in turn, the commercial success of an institution, particularly in its ability to attract deposits from its customers. However, this does not provide any information on profitability. The latter is assessed with the study of the “return on equity”, ie the return on equity.

274. – The difficulty of evaluation is all the greater for the banks as there is significant diversity in the application of accounting rules. Generally, the most widely used approach today, based on modern financial theory, is that of determining the discounted future net cash flows of each of the entities.

As far as credit institutions are concerned, a more traditional approach based on ratios is still sometimes used. The data that is used comes from the financial statements and is therefore based on accounting rules. Benchmarking generally does not disregard past performance, examined from balance sheets and income statements. Accounting data is therefore a privileged source of information. For the analyzes and conclusions drawn from them to be relevant, the accounting data must be comparable. This comparability is subject to the use of identical accounting rules or leading to slightly different valuations, if the methods are not strictly similar.

The accounting regulatory framework imposed on credit institutions in France is set relatively strictly. The rules for valuing and presenting the accounts are defined by the regulations and instructions of the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee, supplemented, where applicable, by interpretations published in the bulletin of the Banking Commission. Since 1999, the regulations drawn up by the banking section of the National Accounting Council have been applied.

Therefore, it might seem, a priori, that French credit institutions apply identical rules and methods that allow their accounts to be compared without restatements and without significant risk of error. Experience leads, on the contrary, to highlight many and varied sources of differences.

275. – The origins of the distortions existing in the evaluation of the accounts of credit institutions can be grouped by type.

276. – First of all, there are discrepancies arising from the different application of the rules. Generally accepted accounting principles require fixed assets to be depreciated and provisions to be made for asset depreciation and/or provisions under the conditions set by law. However, there is a specificity in the banking system because the policies for provisioning real estate risks from one institution to another are not identical. The very definition of real estate assets requiring an evaluation and, if necessary, an impairment is not common to all.

The same observation can be made for country risks. The definition of the bases to be subject to a provision sometimes turns out to be different from one institution to another. However, each bases its analysis on precise written provisions transmitted annually by the Banking Commission. The differences concern whether or not all or part of short-term transactions are taken into account, and whether certain guarantees are taken into account. Even before the harmonization of the depreciation rates, it is therefore more fundamental to question the comparison of the definition of the risk base.

With regard to doubtful debts, beyond the classic causes of differences, it was noted, for example, in 1996 that certain establishments decided to initiate an accounting provisioning of the credit risk as soon as a loan was granted . This “early” taking into account of the risk necessarily has significant consequences on the comparability of the performance of the establishment which practices it in relation to those which, more traditionally, only provision for risks arising.

277. – Secondly, there are discrepancies stemming from the options offered by the texts or the rules themselves.

The accounting rules in force sometimes leave institutions the choice between several possible methods or offer them the possibility of certain accounting practices. Of course, the fund for general banking risks should be mentioned. This is a real provision of a reserve nature, constituted or reversed by the income statement and which should, of course, be restated in the perspective of a valid comparison between several establishments. The hybrid nature of this position has raised a number of questions about its treatment. The new methodology for banks’ consolidated accounts seems to resolve these difficulties by specifying that it is not an identifiable liability:

Les provisions pour pensions qui, en France, peuvent être constituées ou non, totalement ou partiellement, sont également une source notoire et valable de distorsions. Les frais d’émission d’emprunt peuvent, sur option, être amortis sur la durée de vie de l’emprunt, ce qui est le cas le plus courant, mais de nombreux établissements comptabilisent immédiatement ces frais en charges.

278. – Troisièmement, il existe des divergences liées à l’absence de dispositions précises dans les textes.

Une analyse plus détaillée des pratiques comptables des établissements de crédit et plus particulièrement des opérations bancaires met en évidence, dans certains cas, des différences de traitement dont l’impact sur les résultats et les capitaux propres n’est pas négligeable. Ils nécessitent donc des retraitements d’harmonisation pour réaliser une analyse comparative pertinente et fiable. Le fait générateur de la prise en compte du résultat d’exploitation est déterminant. Sa détermination peut entraîner des décalages dans le temps dans la comptabilisation des produits ou des charges.

De nombreux services bancaires sont rémunérés sous forme de commissions, qui peuvent être payées d’avance, in fine ou en plusieurs fois. D’un point de vue comptable, la prise en compte du résultat des commissions doit être liée à la nature des prestations fournies et aux obligations qui en découlent. Ainsi, la réglementation prévoit que les commissions assimilées à des intérêts sont assimilées à ces derniers. Mais il existe un certain nombre d’autres commissions qui ne sont pas comparables à l’intérêt.

Certains établissements n’enregistrent les commissions qu’à la date de réception ; d’autres, au contraire, attendent systématiquement la fin des prestations ; d’autres, enfin, répartissent tout ou partie des commissions dans le temps sur la durée de la prestation. Les commissions, qui constituent une part croissante du produit net bancaire et des résultats bancaires, doivent donc faire l’objet d’un examen approfondi, afin d’harmoniser les faits donnant lieu à leur prise en compte, selon leur spécificité.

En ce qui concerne les titres, si les règles d’évaluation sont strictement définies en fonction du type de portefeuille auquel elles se rattachent, là encore il existe des sources de distorsions. Par exemple, les modalités d’amortissement des décotes/primes relatives aux titres à revenu fixe peuvent varier. Elles sont parfois pratiquées sur la durée restant à courir jusqu’à l’échéance du titre, tandis que certains établissements utilisent une méthode de calcul actuariel, selon la nature du titre. Enfin, d’autres procèdent à un épandage linéaire systématique.

Par ailleurs, les modalités de détermination des résultats de cession des titres du portefeuille d’investissement ne sont pas toujours identiques d’un établissement à l’autre. Certains utilisent la méthode FIFO, d’autres celle du prix moyen pondéré, d’autres encore procèdent à une « sélection » des gammes commercialisées.

Les remboursements anticipés d’emprunts donnent généralement lieu, sur une base contractuelle, au versement d’indemnités financières compensatoires par les clients ou les établissements. Les pratiques adoptées consistent soit à prendre en compte immédiatement ces indemnités, soit à les étaler sur la durée restant à courir de l’ancien prêt voire sur la durée du financement de remplacement, lorsqu’il existe.

Dans le domaine des produits dérivés, une certaine diversité des pratiques peut également être soulignée. Par exemple, l’évaluation à la valeur de marché ou à la « juste valeur » des instruments financiers auxquels cette méthode s’applique peut être prise en compte. Les modalités de calcul des frais de gestion futurs des swaps et autres instruments valorisés à la valeur de marché prennent en compte une part plus ou moins importante des frais indirects. De plus, la définition des coûts directs eux-mêmes peut varier. Enfin, la notion même de couverture ne peut être considérée comme définie de manière uniforme. Les difficultés liées à l’application de la notion de couverture conduisent également certains normalisateurs comptables à ne plus reconnaître la comptabilité de couverture.

279. – It is obvious that the differences in accounting methods result in non-homogeneous valuations and influence the results. This diversity of methods in the context of an establishment merger has consequences. Only a detailed analysis or audit work can make it possible, on the one hand, to identify the differences between two or more establishments, and on the other hand, to measure the possible impact of these divergences. Furthermore, when performance is analyzed over certain previous years, it is necessary to measure this impact for each of the periods examined.

β/ The determination of the parity

280. – The determination of the parity therefore implies the concretization of the balance of power which exists between the banks. The parity is the exchange ratio of the shares decided most often, but not exclusively, from the evaluations of the banks. The determination of parity calls for a few remarks.

281. – Firstly, the reference made to the valuation of companies, although it is frequent in practice, does not have the effect of freezing the determination of the exchange ratio. Indeed, the parties involved can introduce other parameters intended to achieve the most equitable balance of power.

282. – Secondly, the parity will set the terms according to which the partners of the acquired company will become partners of the acquiring or new company. However, it is possible that, taking into account the parity adopted, the shareholders or partners are not entitled to receive a whole number of shares of the acquiring or new company. Consequently, in practice, companies will have to resort to the so-called fractional trading procedure.

283. – However, in order not to burden the merger operation with such negotiations, which may prove to be lengthy in the event of dilution of the capital, companies may use palliatives, including the possibility of payment of a balance in species. This technique, which received legal sanction with the law of 05/01/1988, no longer has the effect of causing the operation to lose its nature of amalgamation, on the condition, however, that this balancing payment does not represent more than 10% of the nominal value of the shares or shares remunerating the contributions.

284. – Companies also have the option of making an exceptional distribution of dividends. It makes it possible to rebalance the parities and to make the absorption of a company less costly. Indeed, by paying such a dividend, the future absorbed reduces its net assets proportionally, thus allowing the absorbing company to limit the number of securities to be issued to remunerate its acquisition. Therefore, exceptional dividend distributions are regularly used.

285. – Negotiations between the companies applying for the merger are therefore an essential element. However, in the banking system, government intervention is also very important.

b/ Taking banking specificity into account in negotiations: intervention by the public authorities

286. – Taking account of banking specificity materializes both through the intervention of political power (α) and the banking authorities (β).

α/ The intervention of political power

287. – There is a specificity to reconciliation negotiations in the banking system. Indeed, these take place between the economic actors, but the public authorities also frequently intervene in the negotiation.

288. – Take the example of the merger between the Banque Nationale du Commerce et de l’Industrie and the Comptoir National d’Escompte de Paris. The government stepped in to lead the merger negotiations. Michel Debré makes this very clear “(…) global economic competition and economic influence, but also France’s policy demanded that it have instruments of action and of an international dimension. I created the BNP to serve the economic and national influence of our country”. However abrupt and directed it may be, the State’s decision to associate the BNCI and the CNEP in 1966 aims to stimulate the banking sector and set up a genuine “financial strike force, the BNP”. In effect,

During the negotiation of this merger, the public authorities were really very present. They mobilized all their energy to push the BNCI to accept the principle of merger. They thus highlighted the complementarity of the goodwill of the CNEP, active with large companies, and the BNCI, very present with small and medium-sized companies. They also indirectly highlighted the interest of creating a new major bank, alongside Crédit Lyonnais and Société Générale.

As soon as the choice was made, the government quickly decided on the principles to be applied in order to carry out the operation, in order to ensure maximum efficiency and to avoid any rumors or possible pressure.

On 05/04/1966, the merger between the BNCI and the CNEP was publicly announced: “The Council of Ministers today approved the merger of the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie and the Comptoir National d’Escompte of Paris into an establishment which will take the name of Banque Nationale de Paris”.

289. – After this operation, the State took part in many other mergers which, moreover, did not necessarily constitute mergers stricto sensu. For example, in 1999, during BNP’s public exchange offer for Paribas and Société Générale, which resulted after the merger of BNP and Paribas, the public authorities intervened on several occasions. This interference took place in a confidential and public manner. It should be verified that this same phenomenon characterizes the intervention of the banking authorities.

β/ The intervention of the banking authorities

290. – The intervention of the banking authorities was carried out in order to promote the merger of banks in difficulty with the aim of protecting the banking system. Indeed, the failure of a bank can generate a systemic risk. The merger of a failing bank with a healthy credit institution is one of the solutions favored by the banking regulatory authorities.

291. – In the case of Banque Pallas, the Governor of the Banque de France intervened. Given that the Société des Banques Suisses was asking for authorization to create a new subsidiary in France, he strongly encouraged the directors of the SBS to hold talks with the directors of Pallas. “The governor’s encouragements are received five out of five. The Swiss allow their arm to be twisted and run”. Negotiations between companies are therefore influenced by the Banque de France. The agreement providing for the merger of Comipar and Pallas Holding, as well as that of Banque Pallas with Banque Stern was signed at the end of March 1992.

292. – Consequently, in a classic merger, the preparatory phase is essentially a matter of negotiations between the representatives of the companies involved. However, in the banking system, this phase frequently involves the public authorities. It is clear that once the decision has been taken to resort to merger, the managers must adopt the measures made necessary by the development of the merger project. To do this, the companies must essentially convene and meet the bodies responsible for drafting the project. Regularly convened, the directors will be able to proceed with the development of the merger project.

2/ The merger project

293. – There is no doubt that this act goes beyond the talks. These are completed when the merger project is completed. Moreover, in the event, frequent in practice, where the shareholders’ meetings decide in favor, this project will become the agreement itself. This is why it is possible to affirm that this act already constitutes the agreement, specifying however that its effectiveness is suspended on one condition: the approval of the shareholders’ meetings. This analysis undoubtedly has the merit of clarity. However, it has a major drawback. Until the agreement is approved, it has no legal effect. This means that in case of refusal, it would be necessary to consider that there was no agreement. This conclusion clashes with reality. The draft agreement not only concretizes an agreement in principle between the parties but even confirms this agreement on the details of the operation. Therefore, another analysis of the merger project is preferable. This can be viewed as an agreement which binds neither the partners nor the companies but only the managers of these companies as such. They are now required to make every effort to ensure that the partners of their company accept the merger under the conditions determined by the project. It goes without saying that this obligation is only an obligation of means. This can be viewed as an agreement which binds neither the partners nor the companies but only the managers of these companies as such. They are now required to make every effort to ensure that the partners of their company accept the merger under the conditions determined by the project. It goes without saying that this obligation is only an obligation of means. This can be viewed as an agreement which binds neither the partners nor the companies but only the managers of these companies as such. They are now required to make every effort to ensure that the partners of their company accept the merger under the conditions determined by the project. It goes without saying that this obligation is only an obligation of means.

294. – Thus, the draft merger is indeed the “official” starting point for the operations which should result in the merger of two or more companies. Centerpiece in the merger, it is necessary to study the adoption of the merger project (a) and the repercussion of the merger project (b).

a/ Adoption of the draft merger

295. – The draft merger is a document made compulsory by the law of 05/01/1988 and the content of which was clarified by the decree of 22/04/1988.

296. – When the managers of the companies involved have decided on the final terms of the merger project, they must, if necessary, grant a delegation to the legal representative of the company, or to any person authorized for this purpose to proceed with the signing of the project. .

297. – The draft is established in a number of copies which varies from one merger to another. In principle, the recipients of the project are each of the companies participating in the operation, the merger auditors, the registry of the Commercial Court, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers and the CECEI. The communication of the merger project to the latter constitutes a banking specificity. Indeed, the merger concerning credit institutions generates the intervention of the banking regulatory authority. It is therefore essential that the latter be informed of the operations that it must control.

298. – In addition, the merger plan must be circulated within the bank. The draft must, in particular, be made available to shareholders with a view to holding extraordinary meetings to decide on the merger operation. It must also be made available to the works council. Employers must provide reasoned answers to questions asked by members of the works council, in particular with regard to the repercussions of the proposed merger.

b/ The repercussions of the merger plan

299. – Once the merger plan has been signed by the representatives of the different companies, the merger operation must be approved by the meetings of the partners of each of the companies. However, for the partners, or shareholders, to be able to decide with full knowledge of the facts, it is necessary to submit the conditions of the operation beforehand to the control of external and independent experts. This need requires the intervention of merger auditors.

300. – The merger commissioner, which appeared with the law of 05/01/1988, is appointed by order of the president of the Commercial Court. This ordinance is taken at the request of the managers of the various banks which are merging without limitation of time.

301. – The intervention of the merger auditor is required only in joint-stock companies and in limited liability companies. The strict application of the texts, and particularly of Articles L. 236-1 and L. 236-2 of the Commercial Code, leads to the conclusion that only transactions between public limited companies and/or SARLs are concerned by the appointment of a merger commissioner. This designation is not required in the context of an operation involving a company of another legal form.

302. – It should be specified that the merger of banks incorporated in the form of LLCs is impossible. Although the banking law does not specify that LLCs are excluded from the banking profession, this is the case in practice. Indeed, under the terms of Article L. 511-10 paragraph 2 of the Monetary and Financial Code, the CECEI “verifies the adequacy of the legal form of the company to the activity of the credit institution”. Thus, the CECEI has always refused to approve a bank incorporated in this corporate form. However, a distinction should be made between banks and finance companies. Indeed, the CECEI agrees to approve financial companies incorporated in the form of limited liability companies. Mergers between them are therefore possible.

303. – Furthermore, the mission of the merger auditor is defined by Article L. 236-10 of the Commercial Code. It is invested with a double mission. It must issue an opinion on the determination of the values ​​attributed to the shares or units of the companies participating in the operation and on the fairness of the exchange ratio. It must also formulate an opinion on the value of contributions in kind and special benefits.

304. – At the end of this assignment, the merger auditor is required to write a report.

305. – Finally, to carry out the merger operation, the companies involved must move on to the stage of final completion of the operation.

B/ The merger decision

306. – This last step concerns the approval of the operation. The approval of the merger by the assemblies obeys different rules depending on whether it is a merger-absorption operation (1) or a merger by creation of a new company (2).

1/ Approval in the case of a merger-absorption

307. – Approval of the merger by the shareholders of the companies presupposes the calling of the meeting.

308. – The decision approving the merger must be taken under the conditions provided for the amendment of the articles of association. It follows that in the SA, the decision is within the competence of the extraordinary general meeting. The rules for calling this meeting must be respected. Without going into the details of these rules, it should be remembered that the notice of meeting is generally preceded by a notice of meeting, published in the Bulletin of mandatory legal notices with regard to bank mergers. Indeed, as commercial banks generally make public calls for savings, this constitutes an obligation towards them.

309. – The convocation is carried out by applying the provisions contained in the statutes. Notwithstanding these provisions, the company must respect the obligation to insert the notice of meeting with mention of the agenda in a journal of legal announcements. In addition, the notice must be sent to the company’s auditors.

310. – In order to be able to make an informed decision, shareholders must have specific information. Thus, during the 30 days preceding the general meeting called to rule on the merger operation, the shareholders must be able to consult at the registered office or obtain a certain number of documents on simple request.

311. – Finally, the partners of the absorbed company rule on the merger project under the conditions provided for the modification of the articles of association, ie by a majority of 2/3 in the SA. However, if the merger has the effect of increasing shareholders’ commitments, the decision to approve the operation must be taken unanimously. Depending on the prospects of the operation, the majority in the assembly is more or less large. For example, during the merger between BNP and Paribas on 05/23/2000, the shareholders approved the merger by 99.72%.

312. – Au-delà de ces règles générales de fonctionnement de l’assemblée en cas de fusion, la décision de l’assemblée appelle un commentaire. Les associés ne sont pas tenus de procéder à l’approbation ou au rejet pur et simple du projet de fusion qui leur est soumis. Ils ont la possibilité de modifier les termes de ce projet. Toutefois, si tel est le cas, la modification doit être étendue à toutes les sociétés participant à la fusion, dans la mesure où les assemblées qui statuent sur l’opération doivent adopter le même texte.

313. – Par ailleurs, la loi bancaire doit être appliquée. L’établissement de crédit absorbant doit modifier son agrément en raison, par exemple, de l’extension de ses activités. Parallèlement, l’établissement absorbé doit demander son retrait d’agrément au CECEI. Le retrait d’agrément prend effet à la date de réalisation de l’absorption. Enfin, en cas de fusion par création de société nouvelle, une demande d’agrément doit être introduite auprès du CECEI.

2/ Agrément en cas de fusion avec création d’une société nouvelle

314. – Cet agrément est régi par les règles bancaires (a) ainsi que par les règles du droit des sociétés (b).

a/ Encadrement par les règles bancaires

315. – Ce type de fusion entraîne la création d’une nouvelle entité juridique. Ainsi, les établissements concernés doivent solliciter, auprès de l’autorité de régulation bancaire, simultanément le retrait de leur agrément ainsi qu’un agrément pour la nouvelle entité.

316. – Les associés doivent approuver les éléments constitutifs de la nouvelle banque. L’ingérence des règles bancaires entraîne une atteinte au libre choix de la forme sociale par les associés. En effet, comme nous l’avons déjà précisé, la constitution d’une banque sous forme de SARL est impossible car cette forme sociale n’est pas en adéquation avec les besoins du système bancaire. Les banques devant disposer de fonds propres importants, le recours aux SARL est exclu.

317. – Inoltre, la normativa bancaria deroga alle disposizioni del diritto societario relative al capitale minimo delle società di capitali. Infatti, secondo il diritto societario, “deve essere almeno di 225.000 euro se l’azienda effettua un bando pubblico di risparmio e di almeno 37.000 euro altrimenti”. Tuttavia, la legge bancaria prevede che il capitale minimo che gli istituti di credito devono avere sia preciso. Pertanto,

– le banche, le banche popolari o cooperative, le cooperative di credito di grande rilievo e le istituzioni finanziarie specializzate devono avere un capitale di almeno 5 milioni di euro;

– le società finanziarie, salvo poche eccezioni, devono avere un capitale di almeno 2,2 milioni di euro;

– le cooperative di credito che limitano la loro attività a garanzie corporali per prestiti e le società finanziarie la cui autorizzazione è limitata all’esercizio di operazioni di fideiussione devono avere un capitale almeno pari a 1,1 milioni di euro.

318. – Finally, the absence of a constituent meeting has the effect of transferring to the general meetings of the banks that are merging the obligation to choose the first directors and auditors. Concerning the appointment of auditors, the Monetary and Financial Code took into consideration the specificity of the banking system. Thus, he imposed the appointment of two commissioners. This is done “after consulting the Banking Commission” which can also “appoint an additional auditor when the situation justifies it”. The credit institution must notify the Commission Bancaire of the names of the statutory auditors it proposes to appoint. The latter has a period of two months to make known its opinion on the proposal to appoint the auditor. If he deems it necessary, he may request additional information. When its opinion is unfavorable or subject to reservations, it must be reasoned. It can only be taken after the proposed auditor has been invited to make his observations known.

319. – Moreover, this designation can only be made within the framework of the new company’s articles of association, which must be approved by the extraordinary general meetings of the companies taking part in the operation. This last rule demonstrates the fundamental connection that should be made between the rules of banking law and company law.

b/ Rules of company law

320. – In theory, the merger entailing the creation of a new bank, it would be advisable to respect all the rules and formalities related to the constitution of a company, whatever the form of the company. news thus created.

321. – However, in order to facilitate the carrying out of merger operations, the legislator has introduced various simplification measures. These provisions essentially apply when the new company is formed without any contributions other than those of the merging companies.

322. – If the new company is an SA, Article L. 236-12 of the Commercial Code provides that this company may be incorporated without any contributions other than those made by the merging companies. In this case, the statutes of the future company are approved by each of the general meetings of the companies which disappear on the occasion of the merger. Similarly, it is not necessary to proceed with the meeting of the constituent assembly of the new company. The abolition of this meeting essentially results in concentrating the carrying out of merger operations within the framework of the extraordinary general meetings of the merging companies. Most of the other incorporation formalities are however maintained, but their fulfillment is largely transferred to the level of the companies that are disappearing.

323. – Once the merger has been approved, it is necessary to publicize the merger decision. These are the rules applicable to commercial bank mergers. These differ in many respects from the rules in force in mergers involving cooperative banks.

§ 2: Mergers involving cooperative or mutual banks

324. – There are two different types of mergers involving cooperative or mutual banks. On the one hand, there may be mergers internal to the cooperative or mutualist group (A). On the other hand, some mergers occur with banks outside the cooperative or mutualist group (B).

A/ Internal mergers within the cooperative or mutualist group

325. – Internal mergers within mutualist groups have been numerous. We will distinguish between the merger of the Crédit Agricole regional banks (1) and the merger of the savings and provident funds (2).

1/ Taking into account the banking specificity in the merger of the regional banks of Crédit Agricole

326. – The regional banks of Crédit Agricole have not escaped the changes in the banking system which take on a particular dimension for them due to the structural characteristics of the institution of Crédit Agricole and the specificities of their activity. It should be specified from the outset that the network banking activity is carried out through the intermediary of regional mutuals. These are independent legal persons with as many organized structures to achieve their corporate purpose of fundraising and granting credit. This departmental fragmentation of the exercise of their activity turned out to be unsuited to the constraints of the European financial economy. It is to deal with this that the national fund has launched a major movement to bring together the regional funds. These mergers have left only a limited number of funds satisfying rigorous and precisely defined criteria. The implementation of these operations has raised particular problems, both practical and theoretical, which are commensurate with the specificity of this institution.

327. – The old structural organization of Crédit Agricole cannot, however, make us forget the evolution that the institution has known since 1920. Originally, exclusively focused on the financing of agriculture, Crédit Agricole has gradually seen its expand their areas of expertise. Many elements are indicative of the phenomenon of trivialization experienced by the institution:
– financial autonomy, which was granted to the national fund by the State in 1966; – corporate tax liability of the national fund and the regional funds from 1979;
– the increased role of banking transformation played by the national mutual, by placing available cash from the regional mutuals on the money market; – the integration of Crédit Agricole into the common framework for banking activity, by the banking law of 01/24/1984;
– the “pooling” of the national fund, whose capital is now held by the regional funds.

328. – Thus, Crédit Agricole had to adapt. The regional banks are characterized by their monopoly of distribution of subsidized loans. However, they had to deal with the abolition of these same bonuses. Then, these banks are strongly collectors. Consequently, they must bear the significant cost of their networks in terms of personnel, geographical locations and administrative management. In addition, since these are geared towards the exploitation of a traditional market, they must bear the cost of setting up management tools and commercial techniques likely to enable them to impose themselves on the technical markets. banking news. Finally, as banks specialized in the agricultural sector, they must face the probable new transformation of French agriculture,

329. – These phenomena of trivialization and exposure of the activity of the regional mutuals have led them to seek solutions to the imperatives of competitiveness and strengthening of their own funds, without the satisfaction of which their sustainability cannot be ensured. To meet these challenges, many Crédit Agricole regional banks have merged. The merger therefore appeared for the regional mutuals as the privileged element in the constitution of banking establishments of a sufficiently large size to meet the challenges of the European financial economy.

330. – The implementation of these merger operations is specific in that they concern establishments which have a banking activity (a) and which are subject to the rules of cooperation (b).

a/ The specificity of the merger linked to the banking activity

331. – The completion of the merger requires the prior harmonization of the accounting information processing methods. Indeed, one of the first practical consequences of the final completion of a merger lies in the obligation for the fund resulting from the operation to be able to produce financial and accounting statements which take into account all the operations of the new company, while satisfying the imperatives of speed and reliability essential in the banking system.

332. – The objective of obtaining a single general accounting, with a single computerized processing system, based on a single chart of accounts, generated by single files and according to identical procedures, is fundamental. It therefore presupposes that a work plan be put in place with a schedule providing for the merging of computer files and the definition of a uniform chart of accounts. Experience shows that this objective can only be achieved in a progressive manner and by giving priority above all to pragmatism. The following approach can be retained as likely to be used in the context of operations to merge regional mutuals. In a first step, it is a question of issuing the accounts of the fund resulting from the merger by adding the accounts of the funds involved in the operation. This solution makes it possible to draw the consequences of the retroactivity clauses generally printed on merger operations, and to immediately provide the banking authorities with the summary statements and the statistical elements required. It assumes that the charts of accounts have been harmonized beforehand and that an unambiguous relationship between the accounts of the regional mutuals has been established in order to allow the computer production of a “third” account. At the end of this transitional period, the merger of the files must be carried out, which must in any case end at the end of the current financial year at the time of the definitive completion of the merger. Finally, accounting procedures must be put in place that allow harmonization of the respective practices of the funds,

333. – Furthermore, it should be noted that the French banking system has developed a set of rules and principles allowing the computerization of interbank data. Provision is made for the allocation to each establishment of a specific codification allowing it to be recognized in computer communication networks. This is how transfer and payment orders between different banks can be “addressed” and processed electronically. Each institution is responsible for setting up a computer recognition and coding system compatible with interbank rules. It is clear that the management of this problem is of extreme importance given the magnitude of the flows processed daily and the nature of the potential problems generated in the event of a malfunction.

334. – It is therefore all the specificities specific to the banking activity of the regional mutuals that must be taken into account in the context of their merger. Consideration should also be given to their cooperative status.

b/ The specificity of the merger linked to the applicability of the rules of cooperation

335. – The regional banks of Crédit Agricole are cooperative companies and are therefore placed under the empire of the legislation applicable to cooperation. This specific legal provision weighed heavily on the merger operations of the regional mutuals (α). It is for this reason that the law relating to the modernization of cooperative enterprises has made fundamental changes with a view to facilitating these merger operations (β).

α/ The heaviness of the legal regime prior to the law of 07/13/1992

336. – Mergers of regional banks of Crédit Agricole were subject in principle to the rules of article 1844-4 of the Civil Code. Thus, they could only exceptionally, in the event of a conventional agreement, be subject to the law of 07/24/1966.
– The principle application of the rules of the Civil Code

337. – The implementation of the operations to merge the regional mutuals required taking into consideration their character as a specific banking establishment. The reform introduced in France by the banking law of 01/24/1984 took this specificity into account. Thus, this law has not been to the end of its logic of universality. Indeed, it left the specificities of the various particular networks and “central bodies” responsible for running them. It is therefore through the Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole that requests for approval of mergers pass. However, the funds must comply with the rules laid down by the banking authorities with regard to changes in their mode of operation and seek the necessary approvals from the CECEI.

338. – Firstly, an observation clearly marks the major distinction between a mutual company and a commercial company. Obeying the rule according to which “one man equals one vote”, the deliberations of the general meetings of the regional mutuals are governed by this rule. This wants each member of the cooperative to be equal to any other. It is true that, in practice, objective factors such as the technical nature of banking and the cumbersome nature of the organizations that the regional banks have become temper the rigor of this principle. The fact remains that the sensitivities of members must necessarily be taken into consideration in the context of mergers in order to ensure the successful completion of operations.

339. – Next, the members are unable to claim to receive from the funds in which they hold shares other than the payment of interest or the reimbursement of their contributions in the event of withdrawal from the fund from which they hold shares. have joined. This completely changes the economy of the operation compared to a merger of commercial companies.

340. – Indeed, in terms of commercial companies, the valuation of each of the participating companies constitutes the obligatory stage in determining the exchange ratio. Once this ratio has been set, the calculation of the amount of the capital increase to be carried out to remunerate the shareholders of the absorbed company makes it possible to determine the possible merger premium. The amount of the latter represents the difference between the value given in the contribution agreement to the net assets contributed and the amount of the capital increase of the company receiving the contributions.

341. – This logic could not be adopted with regard to the merger of regional mutuals. First of all, it was laid down in principle that each member of the absorbed fund could only receive shares in the absorbing fund for the nominal value of the shares he held before the merger operation. Consequently, in the event that each of the regional mutuals had a share capital made up of shares of the same nominal amount, the exchange parity was necessarily established at one share of the absorbing mutual for one share of the absorbed mutual. . The amount of the capital increase of the absorbing regional fund is therefore, in this case, equal to the amount of the capital of the contributing fund.

342. – This logic necessarily finds its limit in the existence of cooperative investment certificates issued by the absorbed fund. Created by the law of 06/17/1987, cooperative investment certificates are indeed transferable securities without voting rights representing pecuniary rights attached to a share of share capital. They cannot be analyzed as resulting from the dismemberment of the social share. Nevertheless, the holders of these certificates have a right to the net assets of the regional mutual in proportion to the capital that they represent. It is clear that this provision is an important departure from the principles laid down by the law on cooperation. It raises for the funds participating in merger operations, after issuing certificates, the problem of the exchange of securities of cooperative investment certificates in the same terms as commercial companies. In addition, it is noteworthy that, insofar as cooperative investment certificates are issued through a public call for savings, any merger operation then presupposes control by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers over that -this.

343. – The direct consequence of the double constraint constituted by the impossibility of taking into consideration the respective weights in terms of net assets of the regional mutuals participating in the merger operation and by the application of the rule “one man equals one voice” poses the problem of the policies of each of the funds in terms of membership. Indeed, a merger operation can bring together a regional mutual with few reserves but with many members. However, a fund, having a significant economic weight but a policy leading to having few members, necessarily sees the first having power in general assembly.

344. – In seguito, risulta che la gestione del numero dei soci è uno dei problemi che devono essere esaminati prima dell’avvio delle operazioni di fusione. Una soluzione consiste nel riunire i membri di ciascuno dei fondi che partecipano all’operazione in strutture intermedie, in modo da bilanciare o modulare i poteri.

345. – Infine, il problema della portata della missione dei sindaci nelle banche regionali del Crédit Agricole è un problema antico. La legge bancaria ha affidato alle mutue regionali l’obbligo di dotarsi di un revisore.

346. – Lo stesso non vale per i revisori dei contributi e dei revisori di fusione, poiché nessuna disposizione legislativa o regolamentare prevede il loro intervento nell’ambito della fusione delle mutue regionali. Interrogata su questo problema, la Società Nazionale dei Conti prese posizione nel 1986. In mancanza di espresso riferimento nella legge 24/01/1984 e nel Codice Rurale alle disposizioni della legge 24/07/1966 in materia ai revisori dei contributi, poiché la mutua regionale non è una società commerciale, tali fusioni non devono essere sottoposte all’approvazione del revisore dei contributi. Per gli stessi motivi, il revisore della mutua regionale interessata non dovrebbe emettere una relazione sul corrispettivo dei contributi. Sebbene parte di un quadro legislativo riformato, questa risposta, a nostro avviso, conserva tutto il suo valore. Infatti, nessun testo legislativo o regolamentare ha imposto alle mutue regionali l’obbligo di ricorrere ad un revisore dei contributi. Ciò porta a concludere, per gli stessi motivi, che non vi è stato alcun intervento da parte di un revisore dei conti. È chiaro che l’importanza delle poste in gioco e il carattere delle mutue regionali come istituto bancario rendono auspicabile, in materia, una modifica dei testi applicabili, in modo da conferire a tali fusioni tutta la sicurezza necessaria.

347. – Conseguentemente, l’originario statuto delle Banche regionali del Crédit Agricole ha dapprima vietato loro di assumere in prestito presso società commerciali i progetti di fusione che sono stati sanciti in testi normativi e regolamentari in conformità alle direttive comunitarie adottate in materia. Poi, hanno potuto applicare volontariamente la legge del 24/07/1966.

– L’applicazione volontaria della legge 24/07/1966 riconosciuta dalla giurisprudenza

348. – In quanto società non commerciali, le Banche regionali del Crédit Agricole non erano originariamente soggette alla disciplina applicabile alle società commerciali. L’unico testo applicabile, in materia di fusione, alle società non commerciali era l’articolo 1844-4 del codice civile modificato dalla legge del 04/01/1978. In questa occasione il legislatore ha generalizzato il principio delle operazioni di fusione in un quadro normativo di interesse per tutti i tipi di società, ispirandosi in gran parte ai termini dettati dalla legge 24.07.1966. Siamo comunque rimasti con questo testo al livello dei principi, senza affrontare i meccanismi di questo tipo di operazione. Va poi rilevato che né il Codice rurale né la legge del 10/09/1947 contenevano alcuna disposizione in materia di operazioni e meccanismi di fusione.

349. – Così alcune sentenze hanno inizialmente ammesso che le norme della legge del 1966 relative alle fusioni potessero essere fatte valere per le succursali di Crédit Agricole, che non erano poste per il loro statuto sotto il dominio di questa legge.

350. – In the judgment cited, the right of objection provided for in Article L. 236-14 of the Commercial Code was exercised against a regional bank of Crédit Agricole, when the latter merged with the cash desk of a neighboring department. However, Article L. 236-14 of the Commercial Code is placed in a section entitled “provisions relating to public limited companies”. In addition, the Crédit Agricole regional banks are cooperative companies with variable capital and staff, subject to the Rural Code. According to article 618 of this code, their capital cannot be formed by share subscriptions. It must be acquired by the members by means of registered shares, which only certain categories of bearers, defined in article 617, can appropriate because of their integration into the agricultural world. So,

351. – These bodies therefore have profound differences with public limited companies. However, their financial activity tends to link them to the commercial world or, at least, to the economic world. In addition, the law of 18/01/1988 made the Caisse Nationale a public limited company, while the law on new economic regulations of 2001 authorized Crédit Agricole to acquire a vehicle listed on the stock exchange. Finally, the mergers of regional mutuals revealed a rise in power at the regional level, which distanced these mutuals from their mutual bases.

352. – It is quite clear that the judgment of 15/07/1992 did not justify the application of the law of 24/07/1966 by the commercial nature of the regional funds. Indeed, in its response to the first branch of the first plea, it approved the Court of Appeal which admitted that Article 381 of the law of 07/24/1966 was normally inapplicable to a merger between regional funds. But he considered that “in the silence of the law establishing the status of the Crédit Agricole funds, it was not prohibited” for these funds to “allow creditors to assert their rights by implementing the opposition provided for by the 381”.

353. – This judgment recognized the contractual application of the 1966 law. The assertion was both useful and timely. Useful, because it was not easy to extend the scope of a law designed for commercial companies. Appropriate, because the absence of specific legislative provisions and the insufficiency of article 1844-4 of the Civil Code, made it desirable to provide the partners of the merging entities with protection comparable to that existing in public limited companies. This was all the more necessary when the non-commercial company carried out a financial activity.

354. – It should however be recognized that this judgment did not seek to determine precisely the conditions for a conventional application of the 1966 law. The interpreter was led to suppositions and deductions when he had to say which entities could abide by rules designed for commercial companies. Moreover, the embarrassment was not less great in front of the need to sort, among the provisions of the law of 1966, those which could be retained and those which were appropriate only for the commercial companies.

355. – It is in particular because of the legal problems posed by the absence of compulsory application of the law of 24/07/1966 to mutual banks that the law of 13/07/1992 was adopted.

β/ Amendments resulting from the law of 13/07/1992

356. – The provision of the law concerning mergers only applies to cooperative banks. It was requested by Crédit Agricole to facilitate such operations. It is intended to increase the legal certainty of the latter.

357. – It provides that these companies are henceforth subject to the provisions of the law of 24/07/1966 on commercial companies with regard to mergers, demergers and partial contributions of assets.

358. – In this respect, the regime for mergers, spin-offs and contributions of public limited companies provided for in Book II of the Commercial Code is applicable to cooperative banks, with the exception of Article L. 236-10 of the Commercial Code in assuming that the cooperative has not issued any securities giving rights to the net assets.

359. – Thus, the legal bases of regional mutual merger operations are more clearly defined. In practice, however, the application of the law has not led to any fundamental changes for Crédit Agricole’s bank merger operations. Indeed, as we have already explained, in the absence of applicable texts, the rules enacted by the law of 1966 were generally retained voluntarily.

360. – It should be noted that the regional mutuals issuing securities giving a right to the net assets were led, within the framework of a merger operation, to appoint a contribution auditor and a merger auditor. This practice, already used by the caisses that issued cooperative investment certificates and that merged, to ensure the protection of the interests of their security holders, was therefore confirmed by law.

361. – This law constitutes a fundamental modification of the general statute of cooperation. It has enabled the issue of new securities representing capital, the modification of the remuneration paid to capital contributors and the profound transformation of the social structures of cooperative societies.

362. – The above developments have highlighted the specificity of mergers of cooperative banks through the study of the situation of the regional banks of Crédit Agricole. Banking specificity is also taken into account in the mergers of savings and provident funds.

2/ Taking account of banking specificity in the merger of savings and provident funds

363. – A law of 10/07/1991 organized mergers between savings and provident funds. This law applies specifically to savings and provident funds. It therefore highlights the existence of a specificity of these merger operations.

364. – In addition, Article L. 512-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code provides that “mutual or cooperative banks are subject to the regime for mergers, demergers and contributions of public limited companies provided for in Book II of the Commercial Code (… )”. As the savings and provident funds have become cooperative banks since the law of 25/06/1999, these provisions are undoubtedly applicable to them. However, the legislator has taken into account the specificity of these banks by providing that Article L. 236-10 of the Commercial Code is not applicable to those establishments which have not issued securities giving a right to the net assets.

365. – Finally, the law on urgent economic and financial reform measures of 11/12/2001 also provided for provisions aimed at facilitating the merger of savings and provident funds.

366. – The legislator thus decided to exempt local savings companies from the obligations to set aside available sums provided for in article 16 of the law of 10/09/1947 on the status of cooperation.

367. – In addition, Article L. 512-90 of the Monetary and Financial Code has also been amended. This provides that “savings and provident funds are run by a management board under the control of a supervisory board. The latter takes the specific name of guidance and monitoring council. The Orientation and Supervisory Board is made up of seventeen members. It includes, under the conditions provided for by the articles of association:

1° Members elected directly by the employee members of the savings and provident fund;
2° Members elected directly by local authorities, members of local savings companies affiliated to the savings and provident fund; 3° Members elected by the general meeting of members of the savings and provident fund. Are not eligible as such the local authorities or the employees of the savings and provident fund”.

368. – In the event of a merger of the savings and provident funds, the number of members of the orientation and supervisory board of the fund resulting from the merger may be greater than seventeen, for a maximum period of three years. from the date of the merger. In this case, the board of directors and supervisor cannot be composed of more than thirty-four members. The number of members elected by the employees and that of the members elected by the local authorities cannot exceed six.

369. – In the absence of agreement between the funds concerned, the total number of members of the orientation and supervisory board, as well as the distribution of the latter by fund and by category, may be fixed by the Caisse nationale des caisses d savings and pensions.

370. – Thus, a derogation is possible with regard to the maximum number of members of the orientation and supervisory board resulting from a merger. The number can thus reach 34 people, almost double the legal maximum. However, a reserve is provided. It is advisable to respect the distribution between the different categories of members, that is to say the representatives of the employee members, the representatives of the local authorities and the representatives of the members. This therefore facilitates agreements in the context of mergers between savings and provident funds. Indeed, these provisions should avoid conflicts between the two merging entities when it is appropriate to determine the composition of the management board.

371. – It is obvious here that banking specificity interferes with the mechanism of the merger. The objective is to facilitate the merger of savings and provident funds but above all to avoid blockages during these concentration operations.

372. – The operations that we have just studied concern the legal framework for internal mergers within the cooperative or mutualist group. Mergers with a bank outside the cooperative or mutualist group should also be examined.

B/ Merger with a bank outside the cooperative or mutualist group

373. – These mergers are specific because they occur between banks with different statuses. Banking specificity must therefore be taken into consideration because the legal rules applicable to entities with separate statutes are not harmonised. A cumulative application of the legislative and regulatory provisions in force is therefore necessary. Logically, this cumulative application of the rules of law increases the complexity of these mergers.

374. – We will first refer to operations which do not constitute mergers stricto sensu. Indeed, the concentration was carried out in the first place by means of a takeover. However, it is appropriate to refer to it because certain entities of the groups concerned have merged.

375. – Thus, Crédit Agricole notably took control of Indosuez in 1996. The integration was carried out gradually. The merger between Crédit Agricole and Indosuez was completed on a legal level in 1997. Crédit Agricole-Indosuez became a subsidiary of the Caisse Nationale du Crédit Agricole, grouping together its business banking and major international customers. Interesting developments have occurred. Indosuez had a network of twelve branches in the provinces. They lacked financing capacity and some operations escaped their control. After the merger, thanks to the contribution of Crédit Agricole’s financial capacities, Crédit Agricole-Indosuez was able to participate in an increased number of financing transactions. Conversely, thanks to the expertise of Crédit Agricole-Indosuez,

376. – As regards the concentration between the Banques Populaires and Natexis, this took place in several stages. First, the Banques Populaires group took control of Natexis. Then, the subsidiaries of the two groups exercising the same businesses were merged. For example, in the field of employee savings, Natexis transferred its subsidiary Vitalia Epargne to the Interépargne subsidiary of the Banques Populaires group. In the equipment leasing activity, the two networks have combined their specialized subsidiaries within Bail Banques Populaires. Finally, the merger was achieved through an operational integration. In 1999, the Caisse centrale des Banques Populaires transferred its operational activities to Natexis SA and gave birth to a new entity, Natexis Banques Populaires. On 06/28/2000,

This concentration has enabled the Banques Populaires group to be more active internationally. Indeed, the group was not very present on the international scene. Thus, the merger with Natexis made it possible to support a desire to go beyond borders. It has provided a better international image and a presence in new businesses: structured finance, trade or project finance through establishments, for example in Asia, the United States or Europe. Above all, Natexis-Banques Populaires has very broad financing lines abroad, particularly in terms of export financing and documentary credit confirmations.

377. – Finally, the financial company Eulia, jointly controlled by the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and the Caisse d’Epargne group, in a first stage, merged in a second stage. Indeed, Eulia first merged with the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne. Then, the latter absorbed CDC Ixis. Thus, the Caisse d’Epargne group is now the third largest banking network in France. This external growth operation allows L’Ecureuil to constitute a complete mutualist group which also has an investment banking activity.

378. – The sale of Eulia constitutes the last transfer from a public bank to the private sector. The domestic concentration of the major French networks is therefore almost complete. Correlatively, reconciliations of credit institutions must now be carried out at European level.

Chapter 2: European mergers

379. – Tangible manifestations of the reality of the single market and the globalization of the economy, cross-border restructuring is on the increase. In search of critical size in order to remain competitive, companies are concentrating.

380. – Merger constitutes one of the modalities of such mergers. The need to allow mergers between companies having their registered office in different Member States was affirmed by the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community in its Article 220. This provides that “Member States shall enter into where necessary, negotiations with a view to ensuring in favor of their nationals the possibility of mergers of companies governed by different national legislations”.

381. – Thus, in theory, there is nothing to prevent such mergers from being carried out. However, the directive on the legal aspects of intra-Community mergers is still under discussion. In addition, in practice, the existence of significant discrepancies between national legislation raises serious obstacles to the realization of these international mergers. Indeed, not all the States of the European Union recognize the mechanism of the merger, yet an essential condition for the realization of an international merger is the recognition of the universal devolution of the heritage. Some authors therefore do not hesitate to conclude that mergers between companies of different nationalities are impossible when there is incompatibility of the applicable legislation. Finally, even when there is no incompatibility of legislation, the lack of harmonization of the notions of merger, takeover and takeover bid is also a source of legal problems. For example, the notion of merger does not have the same meaning in English law as in French law. The concept is much broader in England. It encompasses both the creation of concentrative joint ventures and lease-management operations. Consequently, uncertainties as to the qualification of the merger transaction or public takeover bid may arise. This is likely to cause reconciliations to fail. Indeed, in the first case, the initiator can proceed as he wishes, in particular by exchange of securities. However, if the last hypothesis is retained, certain legislations require the buyer to offer the possibility of payment in cash.

382. – Carrying out mergers between companies of different nationalities therefore raises significant difficulties. However, European banks have every interest in merging. Indeed, credit institutions have an interest in operating abroad through branches rather than through subsidiaries because of the importance of the guarantees they are required to provide. It should be specified that when they act by branches, these guarantees are assessed solely at the level of the head office, whereas each subsidiary would be required to present its own guarantees. Thus, it is necessary to take into consideration the banking specificity to understand that the simple takeover is less advantageous than the international merger.

383. – Nevertheless, the obstacles to international mergers being very high, companies try to find other legal means. The practice essentially retains two reconciliation techniques. However, these concentration instruments are complex and the lack of European harmonization of legislation also constitutes an obstacle.

384. – It is possible to simply take a majority stake in the capital of the target. The solution, which often leads to holding almost all of the capital of the target company, nevertheless also has drawbacks. First of all, these equity investments, even by a large majority, do not produce effects comparable to mergers. If they make it possible to ensure control of the target company, they do not lead to the confusion of assets which characterizes the merger. Then, certain legislations subject to very strict controls the acquisition of holdings by foreign partners.

385. – Concernant le jumelage, il s’agit d’une technique où les entreprises conservent leur autonomie juridique et leur nationalité mais les décisions collectives sont prises par une commission réunissant les dirigeants des différentes entreprises. C’est une sorte de comité de pilotage supranational qui fonctionne de manière conventionnelle. Un exemple peut être cité dans le secteur bancaire. Le Crédit Local de France et le Crédit Communal de Belgique ont opté pour cette solution en 1996. Cela leur a permis d’éviter de changer de nationalité. Le montage juridique adopté a conduit à la création de deux sociétés holding détenant à parts égales les deux sociétés d’exploitation. Pour ce faire, les deux établissements, fin 1996, ont commencé par filialiser leurs activités opérationnelles. Les deux sociétés mères nées de cette opération, baptisées Dexia-France et Dexia-Belgique, ont ensuite procédé à un échange d’actions de leur filiale afin d’en détenir chacune 50 %. La valorisation du Crédit Local de France était cependant supérieure de 626 millions de francs à celle du Crédit Communal de Belgique. Pour que les actionnaires de la première banque ne soient pas lésés, il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. ont ensuite procédé à un échange d’actions de leur filiale afin d’en détenir chacune 50 %. La valorisation du Crédit Local de France était cependant supérieure de 626 millions de francs à celle du Crédit Communal de Belgique. Pour que les actionnaires de la première banque ne soient pas lésés, il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. ont ensuite procédé à un échange d’actions de leur filiale afin d’en détenir chacune 50 %. La valorisation du Crédit Local de France était cependant supérieure de 626 millions de francs à celle du Crédit Communal de Belgique. Pour que les actionnaires de la première banque ne soient pas lésés, il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. La valorisation du Crédit Local de France était cependant supérieure de 626 millions de francs à celle du Crédit Communal de Belgique. Pour que les actionnaires de la première banque ne soient pas lésés, il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. La valorisation du Crédit Local de France était cependant supérieure de 626 millions de francs à celle du Crédit Communal de Belgique. Pour que les actionnaires de la première banque ne soient pas lésés, il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre, les fusions transfrontalières sont possibles. il a été décidé de conserver 626 millions de francs de trésorerie dans Dexia-France lors de sa filialisation puis de les distribuer sous forme de dividende. Il est à noter que ce type de rapprochement est complexe et peut avoir été contesté. C’est la raison pour laquelle, à l’été 1999, Dexia-France et Dexia Belgique ont finalement fusionné. Cela prouve que malgré les difficultés de mise en œuvre,

386. – Consequently, incontestably, legal obstacles to European mergers exist (section 1). However, a number of developments are likely to favor these concentrations (section 2).

Section 1: Legal obstacles to European mergers

387. – Compared to national mergers, cross-border banking mergers remain exceptional for the time being. It seems that this is linked to cultural differences, geographical distance, language, which make it more difficult to group resources and in particular back offices. Synergies emerge less easily on the commercial level, in particular because of the additional difficulty of homogenizing geographically dissociated brands. But in our view, the fundamental difficulties lie in the protections afforded to the activities of banks and in the application of different legislation.

388. – Thus, companies from different Member States wishing to group together are faced with an obstacle resulting in particular from the insufficiency of rules from a European source (§1). Also, the economic constraint leads these companies to seek the means of reaching this objective by having recourse to the rules of conflict of laws (§2).

§ 1: The insufficiency of the rules of European source in terms of cross-border banking concentrations

389. – This insufficiency is materialized by the absence of coordination of the European rules governing concentrations with banking law (A), by the insufficient coordination of provisions applicable to banks in Europe (B) as well as the absence of a legal regime for cross-border mergers (C).

A/ The lack of coordination of European rules governing mergers with banking law

390. – Currently, national banking laws are often very strict and sometimes divergent. Nordic banking laws provide that a public bank offer to be valid must obtain at least 90% of the securities of the target company. Other laws provide for very complex rules which aim to prevent the takeover of national banks by foreign banks. This is the case of Italy but also of Portugal. The taking into account of banking specificity is obvious.

391. – Thus, in certain cases, the general mechanisms governing concentrations cannot be applied correctly to banks. It is therefore necessary to solve this delicate problem so that the European rules governing concentrations can be applied effectively to credit institutions in all the Member States of the European Union.

392. – Moreover, banking supervision is currently the responsibility of the home State of the bank carrying out the operation. However, it should be noted that this rule does not apply correctly. In fact, in certain cases, the national banking regulatory authorities have transferred responsibility for supervision to each other. This led to a situation of inefficiency. In addition, the home authority finds it increasingly difficult to carry out efficient control when the entity concerned acquires a multinational dimension and carries out its activities in many States.

393. – Finally, currently, when a credit institution takes control of another entity in the European Union, it must comply with the law applicable to the company it takes control of. For example, when Consors was taken over by Cortal, German law was intended to apply. However, given that there are significant differences between company law, stock market and banking law in the various Member States, European mergers remain very complex.

394. – It is therefore necessary to seek solutions, taking account of banking specificities, in order to solve this problem. A European regulation or directive, intended to modify all national laws, could be adopted. The aim would be to define new, more effective rules concerning banking supervision and stock market regulation. We suggest that Member States transfer these powers to European supervisory authorities.

B/ Insufficient coordination of provisions applicable to banks in Europe

395. – Banking rules must be reformed for the sake of efficiency. The various national banking laws (1) as well as European banking law and French banking law (2) must be subject to closer coordination.

1/ A necessary strengthening of the coordination of the various national banking laws

396. – The banking sector clearly suffers from a lack of overall coherence within the European Union. The different banking arrangements appear as so many kaleidoscopic figures, given the divergent or dissimilar situations from one country to another. Undeniably, efforts have been made in recent years to bring things together. Nevertheless, multiple differences remain between the nations of the European Union.

397. – This lasting lack of homogeneity is due to the nature and legal value of the directive itself as well as to the way in which it is adapted into the domestic law of each country. Community law thus establishes a fundamental distinction between regulations and directives, only regulations having direct effect in all Member States and being binding in their entirety. On the other hand, the directives fix objectives and only oblige the States on the only results to be reached and not on the means. Consequently, the directives do not constitute sources of law directly applicable in domestic law, but they must, each time, be specified by the laws or regulations adopted by the public authorities of each country.

398. – Consequently, the legislators of the Member States were able to adopt distinct positions. There are therefore a multitude of different banking rights in the European Union even if everyone agrees to pursue common objectives. For example, the UK has consistently sought to change its law only to the bare minimum necessary to transpose directives.

399. – Concerning the legal definition of credit institutions, it was therefore impossible to update a common conception. The very notion of bank does not necessarily cover the same meaning or the same entity in all countries. According to French banking law, credit institutions are “legal persons which carry out banking operations as their usual profession”. It is specified that “banking operations include the receipt of funds from the public, credit operations, as well as the provision to customers or the management of means of payment”. The criteria established by this definition are alternative and not cumulative as in Community law. Thus, the granting of credit is considered, on its own, as a banking operation, whereas the laws of the other Member States only subject this activity to approval if it is accompanied by the collection of deposits. In addition, while some states, such as France, Germany and Portugal, reserve the lending activity to approved and supervised establishments, other European countries leave this activity completely free. This is notably the case of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium.

400. – It is above all with regard to leasing and factoring that French banking legislation differs from that of other Member States. In France, to carry out leasing transactions, you must be a credit institution. However, in the other countries of the European Union, such approval is not required. Similarly, a French factoring company must be approved as a credit institution to exercise its activity, which is not the case for factors governed by the law of other Member States. In Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, in particular, leasing and factoring are admittedly assimilated to credit operations but not to banking operations. In these countries, these activities may be carried out by financial institutions that do not have a credit institution licence. Gold, these financial institutions are subject to less strict rules than credit institutions.

401. – In addition, French banking law cites among banking operations the provision or management of means of payment. However, under Spanish law, the activity of issuing and managing means of payment is not a monopoly of credit institutions and this activity is part of that which financial institutions may exercise. Thus, a simple financial institution can issue and manage means of payment in Spain, while a French company can only carry out this activity if it has previously been approved as a credit institution.

402. – Consequently, in the event of a banking concentration, the application of French law disadvantages the economic operator while the application of Spanish law constitutes a source of flexibility. Such disparities within Europe increase the complexity of European mergers and acquisitions.

403. – Lastly, as State laws differ with regard to the definition of a credit institution, this results in legal uncertainty concerning the designation of the competent authority to control the concentration operation. 404. – It would therefore be essential to unify the rules applicable in the various European States. The solution certainly lies in a deepening of coordination. This would eliminate any uncertainty regarding the designation of the competent authority.

405. – In addition, certain national laws grant aid to credit institutions to promote their concentration. This is the case of Italy. This aid scheme results from the application of law n° 461 of 02/12/1998 as well as decreto legislativo n° 153 of 17/05/1999, which provide for certain tax incentive measures applicable to concentration operations banking. The purpose of such provisions is to promote the national concentration of credit institutions. Logically, these measures constitute a source of distortion of competition.

406. – Thus, it is appropriate to propose that such measures be removed from all national laws. This would restore an egalitarian situation in all countries. This would undeniably favor European mergers.

407. – To achieve this objective, it is necessary to systematically attack these aid schemes on the basis of Article 87 of the Community Treaty, which prohibits State aid incompatible with the common market.

408. – If the European Commission considers that the aid is illegal, it may order the recovery of the aid. Since the decision is retroactive, the State is forced to recover the sums unduly paid.

409. – As the banks in question did not want to repay the aid, a dispute developed. The Associazione Bancaria Italiana therefore appealed to the Court of First Instance of the European Communities on 21/02/2002. The applicant requested the annulment of the Commission’s decision of 11/12/2001 “for breach of essential formalities and/or for lack of contradictory character and/or lack of reasoning, within the meaning of Article 253 EC, read in combination with Articles 87 and 77 EC and Council Regulation 659/1999/EC…”.

410. – In our opinion, the decision of the European Commission considering the State aid scheme as incompatible with the common market is entirely justified. The condemnations of the aid put in place by the Member States will dissuade the latter from setting up such mechanisms. This will promote competition within the European Union and cross-border banking concentrations. To achieve this objective, a strengthening of the coordination of European banking law and French banking law is necessary.

2/ A necessary strengthening of the coordination of European banking law and French banking law

411. – First of all, there is a lack of coordination in the definition of a credit institution between Community law and French law. The credit institution is, according to the first banking coordination directive of 12/12/1977, a company whose activity consists in receiving deposits or other repayable funds from the public and in granting loans for its own account. It is to this definition that the second banking coordination directive of 15/12/1989 expressly refers. However, Article L. 311-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code defines the notion of credit institution differently. Thus, “credit institutions are legal persons which carry out banking operations as a regular profession. Banking operations include receiving funds from the public,

412. – Thus, in Community law, contrary to French rules, an institution which is only intended to carry out one of the two activities does not have to be qualified as a credit institution. Consequently, a company can be qualified as a credit institution under French law, and not under Community law.

413. – In the absence of coordination of the definitions of credit institutions and financial institutions, the question is which definition to use in the context of a cross-border concentration. Is this the definition as it results from the banking directives codified in the 2000 directive? In the absence of coordination between Community law and French law on this point, the definition to be retained may be that of domestic law. But textually none is necessary. Community texts give no indication and allow any interpretation. In our opinion, it would be appropriate, in the event of a European concentration, to apply the definition appearing in the banking directives codified in the 2000 directive.

414. – The consistency and rigor necessary for the proper functioning of the single banking market require the adoption of the same definitions of the concept of credit institution and financial institutions in Community law and in domestic law. Thus, a removal of this inaccuracy is desirable. It would therefore be essential to find a compromise to uniquely define the notion of credit institution. Indeed, a conflict between Community law and French law could occur.

415. – In addition, the rules applicable to financial institutions are less stringent than those governing credit institutions. Given that a French company can be qualified under internal law as a credit institution but be a financial institution under another legal system respecting Community law, conflicts may arise between these two laws concerning the applicable prudential rules. The fundamental question is therefore to know what prudential rules should be applied when acquiring holdings in financial companies. The national rules applicable to banking concentrations are likely to be invoked to prevent these operations. The problem is that Community law has only achieved minimal harmonization in this area. National laws may therefore be more stringent. The question of the application of prudential rules is therefore fertile ground for conflicts of law, particularly in the event of a merger.

C/ The lack of harmonization of the legal regime for cross-border mergers

416. – A first attempt to provide cross-border mergers with a harmonized legal regime in Europe took the form of an international convention concluded between the then six Member States. This was to organize the legal regime for international mergers, but this project, published in 1973, was not ratified.

417. – It was not until the following decade that a directive was proposed, inspired in large part by the aborted convention of 1973. This initiative was confined to the traditional method and principles of private international law. It applied distributive or cumulative solutions depending on the case.

418. – The proposal for a directive on cross-border mergers of capital companies, drawn up in 2003, uses a similar method. In its explanatory memorandum, it starts from the observation that it seems essential to provide for regulations for mergers involving companies governed by the laws of different Member States.

419. – This proposal for a directive on cross-border mergers is intended to apply for France only to capital companies and their counterparts in other Member States.

420. – On the substance, in the very many cases where the procedures for carrying out the internal merger and that of the cross-border merger agree, the text merely refers to the national provisions. Therefore, this proposal for a directive is limited to the elements which, in the cross-border merger, differ from the internal merger or which are necessarily added to it. Indeed, the text does not provide otherwise.

421. – Member States shall provide that each management or administrative body of each of the merging companies draws up a common cross-border merger plan. The proposed directive lists the elements that must be included in this draft.

422. – It is possible to provide for a single expert report for all the partners. In most cases, this expert is a notary.

423. – After having read the experts’ report, the general meeting of each of the merging companies approves the joint cross-border merger project.

424. – A preventive control of legality is applicable. Each Member State designates the competent authorities to control the legality of the merger for the part of the procedure relating to each of the merging companies and which is subject to its national legislation. In each Member State concerned, the competent authorities deliver to each of the merging companies and which come under its national legislation, a certificate conclusively attesting to the correct accomplishment of the acts and formalities prior to the merger.

425. – The legislation of the Member State to which the company resulting from the merger is subject determines the date on which the cross-border merger takes effect.

426. – The publicity and the formalities required, for the opposability to third parties, of the transfer of certain assets, rights and obligations, are carried out in accordance with the legislation of each Member State.

427. – The proposal for a directive thus aims to ensure the protection of the interests of creditors.

428. – Nevertheless, the nullity of a cross-border merger that has taken effect cannot be pronounced. This is to avoid calling into question the cross-border merger for the purpose of legal certainty.

429. – It is regrettable that the proposal for a directive, which constitutes the inseparable complement of the directive on internal mergers, has still not entered into the positive law of the various legislations of the Member States. There would then exist in Europe a real common law on mergers, both internal and cross-border, transposed into the internal laws of all the Member States. Obstacles related in particular to the transfer of the registered office and the change of nationality of the acquired company would be removed and the legal certainty of such operations ensured.

430. – It should be noted that the European Regulation on the European company does not solve the problem of the legal aspects of cross-border mergers. Indeed, this allows the legal person resulting from this merger to be housed in this Community instrument that is the European company. However, the legal process of cross-border concentration remains unclear. Also, it is necessary to resort to the complex rules of private international law.

§ 2: The necessary recourse to the rules of private international law

431. – In the absence of international conventions and national or European rules governing cross-border mergers, the only solution for carrying out these operations is to apply the rules of conflict of laws private international law. Indeed, a cross-border merger necessarily involves companies subject to different national laws. However, before looking for the conflict rule (B), it should be ensured that the legislation of each of the Member States to which the companies involved in the merger are attached meets certain prior conditions (A).

A/ Taking account of banking specificity in the preconditions relating to the legislation of the Member States concerned

432. – Each of the legal systems applicable to companies participating in the merger must recognize the existence of participating foreign credit institutions (1 ). In addition, the legislation of each of the Member States concerned must not contain any provision opposing the merger (2).

1/ Mutual recognition of the credit institutions participating in the operation

433. – The domestic law of each of the States where the registered office of the companies taking part in the merger is located must recognize the existence of credit institutions subject to the legislation of another State. An international convention signed on 02/29/1968 was supposed to lead to the automatic recognition, by the signatory States, of companies belonging to another Member State of the European Community, but this text has not entered into force.

434. – Bank specificity should be taken into consideration. The banking rights of the Member States have only been subject to minimal harmonisation. Thus, as we have already specified, there are differences in the definition of credit institutions. A State may therefore not recognize the existence of a foreign company but in addition a foreign law may qualify a banking company whereas the banking law of the State of origin of the acquired company does not result in such a result. These qualification difficulties are of major importance because the formalities for setting up a credit institution differ from those of a traditional company.

435. – Consequently, credit institutions wishing to carry out a European merger must check that the legal systems applicable to the companies taking part in the merger recognize the existence of foreign establishments. If this first prerequisite is met, companies must then ensure that there are no provisions hostile to cross-border mergers.

2/ The absence of provisions hostile to cross-border mergers

436. – The legal systems of the companies participating in the operation must not contain any provision whose purpose or effect is to oppose international mergers. In this case, any risk of rejection of a law of a Member State by the international public order of another Member State seems to have been eliminated since the transposition of the various European directives and, more particularly, of the third. Moreover, countries, such as Italy or Spain, expressly recognize in their law the possibility of carrying out such operations. Others, without having adopted specific provisions, such as France, do not oppose it. Some, however, still appear reluctant. This is the case with Germany, which no doubt fears

437. – Thus, these two preconditions are necessary. However, they are not sufficient, since it is also necessary to determine the legal regime applicable to the operation, taking into consideration the legal systems to which the companies involved in the merger are subject.

B/ The distribution key between the distributive and the cumulative

438. – It is first necessary to seek the rule of conflict of law applicable in the two legal systems. This will be determined by taking into account the fact that all legal systems in the Member States retain the lex societatis which can be defined as the national law applicable to the company. This governs, in particular, the constitution, the formalities of publication, the issue of securities and their regime, the internal organization, the functioning, the ability to contract, the powers of the bodies, the dissolution and the liquidation of the Company. The application of the law of the real seat or the law of incorporation as the case may be, leads to this conclusion indiscriminately.

439. – The law applicable to the operation must then be determined. In this respect, this identification is delicate because of the difficulty linked to the participation of companies of different nationalities, this obstacle not being solved by the identification of the lex societatis.

440 – Indeed, several laws are intended to apply to the principle, the effects and the conduct of the merger. If we reason within the framework of a cross-border merger involving two companies, the respective national laws are necessarily in competition. This affirmation is valid at each stage of the operation: the lex societatis of the new company or of the absorbing company, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, that of any absorbed company. But these laws will not, in principle, be applied cumulatively; in other words, it will not be necessary for each company to fulfill all the conditions required by the various laws. It will suffice for the absorbing company to observe the rules of its own personal status to integrate the other company.

441. – Sarà poi opportuno procedere ad un’applicazione distributiva delle norme per le procedure interne (1). Questo rimane il caso più comunemente riscontrato, nelle varie fasi che portano ciascuna delle società ad approvare l’operazione ea consentirne la realizzazione. Dovremo invece fare un’applicazione cumulativa dei due diritti coinvolti, quando si tratta degli elementi della fusione di interesse delle due società su base bilaterale, cioè quando i rapporti tra le parti sono direttamente in questione. (2). Questo è essenzialmente il caso del contenuto e della forma dell’accordo di fusione.

1/ L’applicazione distributiva delle leggi delle società interessate alle procedure interne

442. – L’applicazione distributiva consiste nell’applicare alle operazioni compiute nell’ambito di ciascuna delle società partecipanti alla fusione la sola rispettiva normativa nazionale. Pertanto, è necessario distinguere tra la situazione della società acquirente (a) e la situazione della società incorporata (b).

a/ La situazione della società acquirente

443. – La lex societatis dell’incorporante disciplina le operazioni da compiere per consentirle di ricevere i beni dell’incorporata. Solo questa legge si applicherà alle varie decisioni che la società incorporante dovrà prendere, nonché alle formalità che dovrà espletare durante il processo di fusione. Pertanto, per una società di diritto francese, ciò riguarda la nomina da parte del tribunale competente di un revisore dei conti, la convocazione e la riunione del consiglio di amministrazione che delibera sul principio della fusione e la convocazione dell’assemblea. Si tratta altresì della formazione delle relazioni del consiglio di amministrazione, del revisore dei contributi e dei sindaci, delle modalità di convocazione, le regole di quorum e di maggioranza relative all’assemblea straordinaria nonché tutte le formalità che devono essere espletate dalla società incorporante. Si applicano allora le disposizioni del codice di commercio e del decreto del 23/03/1967.

444. – Sebbene, ai sensi della terza direttiva, il trasferimento universale dei beni sia riconosciuto dai vari Stati membri, alcuni di essi lo applicano solo in caso di fusioni interne. È il caso della legge inglese, che ammette questo concetto quando si tratta di fusione tra due società costituite nel Regno Unito, ma non lo riconosce nel caso di fusione transfrontaliera. Così, ad esempio, quando la società incorporante è una società di diritto inglese e la società incorporata una società di diritto francese, il diritto inglese consente che quest’ultima, una volta incorporata, cessi di esistere. Tuttavia, nella misura in cui la legge francese si applicherà alla trasmissione dei beni, la legge inglese riconoscerà che questi si considerano trasferiti ai sensi dell’accordo di fusione. Lo stesso non varrà per le passività della società incorporata. Inoltre, la soluzione per ottenere un effetto equivalente a quello risultante dalla trasmissione universale dell’attivo, rispetto al passivo, consiste allora nel far sottoscrivere alla società inglese incorporante, parte dell’accordo di fusione, un impegno unilaterale e irrevocabile. Ai termini di quest’ultimo, denominato “deed poll”, tale società si impegnerà ad assumere tutte le passività dell’incorporata. consiste poi nel far sottoscrivere alla società inglese incorporante, parte dell’accordo di fusione, un impegno unilaterale ed irrevocabile. Ai termini di quest’ultimo, denominato “deed poll”, tale società si impegnerà ad assumere tutte le passività della società acquisita. consiste poi nel far sì che la società inglese acquirente, parte dell’accordo di fusione, sottoscrivere un impegno unilaterale e irrevocabile. Ai termini di quest’ultimo, denominato “deed poll”, tale società si impegnerà ad assumere tutte le passività dell’incorporata.

445. – It is this solution that was implemented during the merger by absorption of Barclays SA by Barclays PLC. This case concerns the completion of an international merger of companies resulting from the absorption by an English parent company, Barclays Bank PLC, of ​​its French subsidiary, Barclays Bank SA, incorporated as a public limited company.

The extraordinary general meeting of shareholders of Barclays Bank SA on 06/25/1993 took note of the merger project of 05/18/1993 and its amendment of 06/22/1993. Barclays Bank SA transferred, by way of merger, to Barclays Bank PLC all of its assets for a net amount of 1,549,087,424.99 francs. It was noted that Barclays Bank PLC holding all the shares of Barclays Bank SA, there was no need for a capital increase of Barclays Bank PLC, nor for an exchange of Barclays Bank SA shares for Barclays Bank PLC shares. . Thus, the merger project was purely and simply approved. The board of directors of Barclays Bank PLC has taken note of the approval by the extraordinary general meeting of Barclays Bank SA of the merger absorption.

This merger was therefore approved and finalized on 06/30/1993 with retroactive effect from 01/01/1993. It resulted in the automatic dissolution of Barclays Bank SA without any liquidation operation, all of its assets having been transferred to Barclays Bank PLC.

In this case, the merger was carried out in accordance with the provisions of article 1844-4, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code and articles 371 and following of the law of 07/24/1966 on commercial companies.

446. – A second more recent cross-border merger can be mentioned. This is the merger of Sema Group plc and Financière Sema under which the former, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, absorbed the latter, a public limited company governed by French law which itself held 41% of the former .

Like the aforementioned operation, this merger was subject to Article 1844-4, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code and to Articles 371 et seq. of the law of 07/24/1966.

In this case, the purpose of the proposed merger was such that, through the effect of the universal transfer of the assets of Financière Sema to Sema Group plc, the latter should have received its own shares as a contribution. However, English company law does not allow a company to acquire its own shares and hold them until they can be cancelled. Consequently, it was necessary to proceed simultaneously with the universal transfer of the assets of Financière Sema and the cancellation by Sema Group plc of its own shares previously held by Financière Sema. This cancellation was carried out in accordance with English law pursuant to a “scheme of arrangement”, concluded between Financière Sema, its shareholders and Sema Group plc, and governed by Section 425 of the Companies Act applicable to the latter company.

The cancellation resulted in the accounts of Sema Group plc by the reduction of the issued share capital item with, in return, the creation of a reserve item. The company governed by English law simultaneously issued new shares to Financière Sema shareholders by deducting the entire amount from this reserve item.

The merger, which was linked to the fulfillment of conditions and, in particular, to the effective cancellation of the shares of Sema Group plc held by Financière Sema, was automatically carried out on the date on which the “scheme of arrangement “.

447. – A third example of a merger in the banking sector between two companies subject to different rights can be found in the press specializing in legal announcements. This concerns the absorption of a company governed by Portuguese law, PSA Credito Sociedade Financeira Para Aquisicoes a Credito SA (PSA Credito) by its parent company governed by French law, Banque PSA Finance Holding (BPSAFH).

Due to the status of banking institution granted to BPSAFH, and in application of the second European directive 89/646 of 15/12/1989 on banking coordination, this merger had a purpose. The aim was to strengthen the coordination of the credit activities of the subsidiaries of this company by replacing them with branches.

The merger project was approved by the extraordinary general meeting of BPSAFH shareholders held on 06/16/1997. In addition, it noted that the merger would take place without a capital increase of BPSAFH, in accordance with Article 372-1, paragraph 2-1° of the law of 07/24/1966, BPSAFH being the owner of 100% of the capital of PSA Credito.

Subjecting the operation to the provisions of article 372-1 of the law of 07/24/1966, the merger agreement provided that PSA Credito transmitted to BPSAFH all the elements making up its assets, in the state in which they would be on the final completion date of the merger. This resulted from the registration, on 01/07/1997, at the registry of the Commercial Court of Lisbon, of the deed received by the Portuguese notary noting the fulfillment of the condition precedent set out in the merger contract. This operation was carried out without retroactivity. The effective date having been fixed for 01/07/1997, it was on this date that the merger-absorption was carried out and that the company PSA Credito was automatically dissolved.

448. – Finally, a fourth example of international merger can be cited. This is the merger-absorption, during the summer of 1999, of Dexia-France by Dexia-Belgium.

449. – All these international mergers concerned the banking and finance sector. As we have already specified, these establishments have indeed an interest in establishing themselves abroad by means of branches because of the importance of the guarantees required in their regard. When they act through branches, these guarantees are assessed at head office level, whereas each subsidiary would be required to present its own guarantees. Thus, it is necessary to take into consideration the banking specificity to understand the multiplication of these European mergers in the banking system.

450. – The realization of these operations has confirmed practitioners and academics in the opinion that international mergers are not always practically impossible. In the current state of positive law, carrying out such operations demonstrates that despite the obstacles they come up against, in the absence of specific European regulations, they nevertheless appear possible. The law applicable to the foreign company party to the merger must then recognize the validity of such an operation. In addition, the requirements set out by the two laws applicable to the acquiring company and to the absorbed company must be complied with on a distributive basis.

b/ The situation of the absorbed company

451. – The resolutions relating to the approval of the merger and the decision to dissolve which will be adopted by the general meeting of the absorbed company which will disappear as a result of the merger are subject to its own lex societatis. Only the internal law of the absorbed is then intended to apply.

452. – A pitfall may nevertheless arise for this company when its capital is not wholly owned by the absorbing company. According to a classic conception, the absorption of a French company by a foreign company entails a transfer of the head office and therefore a change of nationality because the absorbed company extends into the absorbing company. This transaction must therefore, pursuant to Article L. 225-97 of the Commercial Code, be authorized by the extraordinary general meeting of the absorbed company ruling, not by a two-thirds majority, but by unanimity.

453. – Such an analysis may be disputed. Indeed, the acquired company is dissolved and disappears by the very effect of the merger. It is therefore difficult to see how its legal personality could be maintained. Only its assets remain, which itself was the subject of a universal transfer for the benefit of the absorbing company. Article L. 225-97 of the Commercial Code cannot therefore apply to a cross-border merger because there can be no transfer of the registered office since the absorbed company was dissolved during this operation. The decision of the general meeting of the absorbed should therefore be taken by the majority required for a decision to dissolve.

454. – It could also be argued, based on principles of Community law, that it would be discriminatory to require a higher quorum and majority for a merger involving two EU companies than for an internal merger . But this argument could not be favorably received, because of the position adopted by the European Court of Justice in the Daily Mail judgment. According to this decision, “Articles 52 and 58 of the Treaty… do not confer any right, in the present state of Community law, on a company incorporated in accordance with the legislation of a Member State and having its registered office there, to transfer its place of management to another Member State”. Thus, in the current state of European case law,

455. – Nevertheless, unquestionably, the internal law of the acquired company is intended to apply. Moreover, the two legal systems must be taken into account cumulatively with regard to elements linked to the substance of the operation, such as the merger contract.

2/ Cumulative application of the laws of the companies concerned to the merger agreement

456. – The cumulative method consists of applying the legal systems in question by combining them. This will be the case when the companies involved in the operation sign the agreement(s) setting the various terms of the actual merger. Thus, the requirement of a merger agreement and, where applicable, of a subsequent contract, their form, under private or notarized signature, their content, the effective date of the merger, or the nullities that may affect these contracts, will be governed by the cumulative provisions of the two legal systems concerned. In the event of differences between the provisions of these laws, the most restrictive rules will be applied.

457. – With regard to the form of the merger contract and, where applicable, the subsequent contract, certain legal systems require an authentic act, unlike French law. It is therefore appropriate to apply the two legal systems cumulatively. Logically, if a company from a Member State prescribing the authentic form merges with a company subject to the legislation of another State which does not impose such a formalism, the merger contract must take the authentic form. This implies the participation of the notary of the country whose legislation requires such intervention.

458. – It therefore appears that cross-border mergers come up against numerous obstacles which most often make them difficult to carry out. Indeed, many obstacles to the realization of such transactions remain, the main one resulting from the need to obtain the unanimous agreement of the shareholders of the acquired company. All the difficulties encountered by cross-border mergers in the European Union can only be truly eliminated with the adoption of the tenth directive or an equivalent text. Finally, once these obstacles to cross-border concentration have been overcome, there will still be a final problem: the internationalization of banking and financial operations. Financial institutions will have to learn how to control the risks associated with legal situations, economic and financial different from those of their country of origin and often of a multinational character. Legal specialists will then have to propose the necessary changes to meet this new challenge.

Section 2: Developments likely to favor European banking concentrations

459. – The adoption of new European business groups (§ 1) and the directive on public offers (§ 2) constitute favorable developments for European banking concentrations.

§ 1: The adoption of new European business groupings taking account of banking specificity

460. – Two new business groupings will certainly encourage European banking concentrations. This is on the one hand the European Society (A) and on the other hand the European Cooperative Society (B).

A/ The European company

461. – Various proposals for regulations or directives on the European company were presented by the European Commission to the Council. These were discussed at length, then blocked and rejected due to disagreements between member states on the issue of worker participation in administrative bodies.

462. – Indeed, Spain did not want to see a method of employee participation imposed on it that did not correspond to its “corporate culture”. However, the draft directive provided that in the event of a merger between two European companies, the employee participation model could prevail, provided that 25% of the employees concerned by the merger already benefited from a management participation scheme of the company. Spain refused this “premium” for participation and wanted the choice of employee status to be made by majority vote.

463. – Enfin, après trente ans d’un débat infructueux suscité par le volet social, opposant d’une part un modèle allemand, inspiré par la cogestion, et un modèle latin plus libéral, le règlement sur la société européenne, comme nouvel instrument communautaire, a fait l’objet d’un accord politique surprise au sommet européen de Nice le 08/12/2000. Cet accord a donné lieu à l’adoption du règlement communautaire n° 2157/2001 du 08/10/2001. Celle-ci est accompagnée d’une directive 2001/86 du 08/10/2001 complétant le statut de la société européenne en ce qui concerne l’implication des travailleurs. Un compromis a donc été trouvé. Elle prévoit que les pays qui le souhaitent, en l’occurrence l’Espagne, ne peuvent transposer dans leur législation nationale les dispositions de la directive relatives à la règle des 25 %. En retour, aucune société européenne préparant une fusion n’a le droit d’établir son siège social en Espagne. L’Allemagne craignait que des entreprises allemandes ne s’enregistrent en Espagne pour échapper à un système restrictif.

464. – Le statut de société européenne constitue ainsi un apport fondamental pour la réalisation des concentrations bancaires européennes (1). Par ailleurs, il convient de souligner que la spécificité bancaire est prise en compte dans ce mécanisme de concentration (2).

1/ Une contribution fondamentale à la réalisation des concentrations bancaires européennes

465. – Cet apport est lié aux spécificités de la société européenne qui constitue un mécanisme de concentration (a) permettant l’européanisation (b).

a/ Un mécanisme de concentration spécifique

466. – L’article 2 § 1 du règlement communautaire n° 2157/2001 du 08/10/2001 dispose que « les sociétés anonymes énumérées à l’annexe I, constituées selon le droit d’un État membre et ayant leur siège statutaire société et leur siège social l’administration de la Communauté peut constituer une société européenne par voie de fusion si au moins deux d’entre elles sont régies par le droit d’États membres différents ».

467. – La fusion prévue à l’article 17 du règlement peut prendre la forme soit d’une fusion-absorption, soit d’une fusion par constitution d’une société nouvelle.

468. – The specificity of the merger envisaged by the regulation is that the operation is necessarily accompanied by the creation of a European company. Thus, when the merger consists of the absorption of one company by another, the absorbing company must necessarily transform itself into a European company during the merger operation. When the merger leads to the disappearance of the companies which merge to give birth to a new company, this new company is necessarily a European company. A first consequence follows from this: in all circumstances the date of completion of the merger is necessarily the same as the date of registration of the European company.

469. – It should be noted that the regulations proceed, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, with a broad attribution of competence to national laws. Thus, the protection of all interests likely to be affected by a merger is left to them.

470. – As for what the regulation itself deals with, it makes many simplifications. It describes in detail the content of the merger project.

471. – The substantive simplifications are particularly visible. For example, the obligation to appoint what French law calls a merger auditor in each company participating in the operation can be replaced by the appointment of a single independent expert. This is on the sole condition that this expert is appointed by a court or an administrative authority.

472. – Furthermore, when the merger is complete, ie when the resulting European company has been registered, the nullity of the operation can no longer be pronounced. This solution is made possible by the existence of a procedure involving the purging of defects in the constitution of the European company. This is the establishment of a prior control of the legality of the merger. This control must be carried out by a court, a notary or any authority that national law would like to invest. The accomplishment of this control is materialized by the delivery of a certificate of legality. This document is required for the registration of the European company resulting from the merger. Only the lack of legality control could lead to a merger being called into question,

473. – If the European company is a concentration mechanism, it is correlatively an instrument of Europeanisation.

b/ A specific instrument of Europeanization

474. – This regulation on the European company is essential to promote European banking concentration. This will indeed allow the creation of a common statute for public limited companies, within the European Union, essential within the framework of a single market and a single currency so that the banks of different Member States merge. This removes one of the obstacles to bank mergers. Many banks will certainly adopt this European company statute. This will thus allow all the subsidiaries and employees of a transnational group to live according to the same legal and financial rules wherever they are located in Europe.

475. – The fundamental new element is the existence of a society which is not linked to the nationality of a particular State. European society is “at home everywhere” in the Community territory. She has a real European nationality. This is important both practically and in principle. Concretely, the company which will adopt the social form of European company will be able to act in the States without having to constitute national subsidiaries for each of the countries. This corresponds to pecuniary savings but also to a kind of economy of legal means because it will not have to manage the multiplicity of national laws. Finally, in terms of principles, it should be noted that for the first time legal persons of European nationality have been created. This is fundamental for the banks because of the protectionism of the Member States in the face of transnational banking concentrations. This last argument highlights the need to take account of banking specificity.

2/ A necessary taking into account of banking specificity

476. – Concerning the constitution of the European company, a minimum capital of 120,000 euros is provided for. Banking specificity implies the non-application of this provision to banks. Indeed, a derogation is provided for in sectors where certain Member States require a higher capital. This is indeed the case for French banks which must have a minimum capital equal to 5 million euros.

477. – In addition, Article 9 § 3 of the Regulation provides that if the nature of the activities carried out by a European company is governed by specific provisions of national legislation, these apply in full to this company. Thus, the Regulation confirms the essential role of national mandatory laws. It is therefore devoted to the application of specific provisions to banking activities. These relate to access to banking activity and the supervision of these activities.

478. – Concerning the functioning of this European company, Community law has sometimes purely and simply renounced regulating a matter. It therefore referred directly to the national law of the Member State of the seat, subject to the application of such and such a directive. This is the case of article 62 relating to the annual accounts of European companies operating credit institutions or financial institutions which enshrines a banking specificity. This provides that European companies “which are credit institutions or financial institutions are subject, with regard to the preparation of their annual accounts and, where applicable, their consolidated accounts, including the management report accompanying them, their control and their publicity, the rules provided for in the national law of the Member State of the registered office pursuant to Directive 2000/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20/03/2000 concerning access to the activity of credit institutions and its exercise “. Thus, the European companies that will emerge will all come from the same normative texts, ie Community Regulation No. 2157/2001 of 08/10/2001 and Directive 2001/86 of 08/10/2001. However, they will hardly look alike. Indeed, different corporate and banking rules may apply depending on the applicable national law. the European companies that will be created will all come from the same normative texts, ie Community Regulation n° 2157/2001 of 08/10/2001 and Directive 2001/86 of 08/10/2001. However, they will hardly look alike. Indeed, different corporate and banking rules may apply depending on the applicable national law. the European companies that will be created will all come from the same normative texts, ie Community Regulation n° 2157/2001 of 08/10/2001 and Directive 2001/86 of 08/10/2001. However, they will hardly look alike. Indeed, different corporate and banking rules may apply depending on the applicable national law.

479. – Moreover, it is indeed a capital company with a corporate name and a registered office, located in the State where the company actually has its administrative headquarters. The possibility of merging is therefore only open to joint-stock companies. This excludes SARL, general partnerships and limited partnerships. Concerning SARLs, the difficulty can be ruled out from the outset because due to the specificity of credit institutions, this type of structure is not accepted for the exercise of banking activities. Concerning general partnerships and limited partnerships, these should first be transformed into public limited companies before being able to obtain the status of European company.

480. – Finally, from an internal point of view, the resemblance to the public limited company scheme with shareholders’ meetings, a management body and a president able to represent the company towards third parties is enshrined. . Nevertheless, the corporate functioning must necessarily take into consideration the banking specificity. Indeed, according to French banking law, the effective determination of the orientation of the activity of credit institutions must be ensured by at least two people. This precautionary principle requires the appointment of two accountable managers.

481. – Consequently, the creation of the statute for a European company constitutes an essential development for Community law. The same applies to the adoption of the statute for a European cooperative society.

B/ The European cooperative society

482. – Community Regulation No. 1435/2003 of the Council of 22/07/2003 as well as Community Directive 2003/72 EC of the Council of 22/07/2003 allow cooperative enterprises operating in the territory of several Member States to acquire a single legal personality. The European cooperative society is defined as a company having legal personality and whose capital subscribed by its members is divided into shares. Its head office, fixed by the statutes, must be located within the Community and must correspond to the place where its central administration is located. The European cooperative society has legal personality from its registration in the State of its headquarters.

483. – A true legal statute for the European cooperative society is thus put in place. Indeed, these new texts allow the creation of a cooperative by persons residing in different Member States or by legal entities established in different Member States. The European Cooperative Society therefore has the possibility of carrying out its activities throughout the internal market with a single legal personality, rules and structure. It can therefore expand its cross-border operations without having to set up a network of subsidiaries. This is a time and money saving factor.

This new status of European cooperative society is parallel to that of the European company, but takes into account the specific characteristics of cooperatives. Thus, unlike the European Company, a European Cooperative Society can be created from scratch but also by merger or conversion of an existing company. Cooperatives from several countries can now merge in the form of a European cooperative society and a national cooperative, having activities in a Member State other than that in which it has its registered office, can be converted into a European cooperative without prior dissolution.

484. – The main purpose of the European cooperative society is to meet the needs and/or develop the economic and/or social activities of its members. An evolution of the capital requires neither modification of the statutes, nor publicity. The bodies of the European cooperative society are the general assembly and a dual management/supervision system. The management body is appointed and dismissed by the supervisory body. Certain operations, such as acquisitions, require the authorization of the supervisory body or a deliberation of the general meeting. The European Cooperative Society may offer for subscription to any interested person shares which do not confer on their holders the right to vote. Finally, the European cooperative society is subject to the legislation of the state of its headquarters.

485. – Banking specificity must necessarily be taken into account. Indeed, the Regulation provides for a minimum capital of 30,000 euros to set up such a company. However, it specifies that the legislation of a Member State providing for a higher subscribed capital for legal entities carrying out certain types of activities applies to European cooperative societies having their registered office in that Member State. Consequently, French cooperative banks wishing to adopt this social form must have a minimum capital equal to 5 million euros.

Ultimately, the creation of new European business groups constitutes an essential development for Community law. The adoption of the directive on public offers is also fundamental.

§ 2: The directive on public offers

486. – The lack of harmonization between the various European regulations relating to public offers and the difficulties of arriving at a thirteenth European directive on public offers have often been criticized.

487. – These criticisms are now outdated, since, after more than ten years of discussions, the directive on public offers has been adopted.

488. – It is obvious that the transposition of this directive remains essential in order, in particular, to harmonize the conditions of jurisdiction between the various national authorities in charge of public tender procedures. It is part of a legal environment that should promote the smooth running of public offers. It must also facilitate cross-border public offers with the aim of consolidating the single European market. Indeed, the trend towards cross-border concentration will only be able to flourish fully if economic operators have a single set of regulations to carry out these operations.

489. – Nevertheless, it should be noted that the ambitions of the Community authorities have been gradually scaled down. Several versions of the directive have been proposed: the first in 1989 and amended in 1990, the second in 1996 and amended in 1997, the third in 2002. While the three versions state the same general principles for the conduct of takeover bids and the protection of minority shareholders, they are distinguished by the method used. The 1989/1990 version aimed to establish detailed and uniform common rules and thus specified the conditions for applying the principles set out, whereas the latest versions no longer include provisions specifying these procedures. They merely set out the principles and ask the Member States to establish their mode of application.

490. – Thus, Member States must ensure, in the event of acquisition of control of a company, that the rules in force either require the launch of a bid or provide for an equivalent mechanism. It is up to the Member States to set the method of calculating the percentage of voting rights conferring control. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with the following principles:

– all holders of securities of the target company who belong to the same category must benefit from equivalent treatment; in addition, if a person acquires control of a company, other security holders must be protected;

– the recipients of the offer must have sufficient time and information to be able to make an informed decision on the offer; when advising the holders of securities, the administrative or management body of the target company must present its opinion on the repercussions of the implementation of the offer on employment, employment conditions and company business sites;

– the administrative or management body of the target company must act in the interest of the company as a whole;

– there must not be any distorted markets for the securities of the offeree company, the offeror company or any other company concerned by the offer so that the rise or fall in the prices of the securities becomes artificial and the operation markets are disrupted;

– an offeror should announce an offer only after satisfying itself that it can supply the full consideration in cash, if such consideration has been offered, and after having taken all reasonable steps to ensure the supply of any other kind counterparty;

– the target company must not be hampered in its activities by an offer for its shares beyond a reasonable time.

491. – Domestic law is already in harmony with the Thirteenth Directive, which was moreover taken into account in the 1989 reform. As the latest version leaves much more latitude than the 1989-1990 version, its adoption will not result in a change in domestic law. But not all Member States are in harmony with this draft directive.

Conclusion of Title 1:

492. – We have tried to demonstrate that the banking and financial specificity is taken into account in the concentration mechanisms in domestic and Community law.

493. – In national law, this banking specificity first materializes through an independent understanding of the concept of control. Then, this banking and financial specificity is taken into consideration in the process of implementing the takeover. Indeed, concerning the restructuring of defaulting capital, when the objectives of the law of insolvency proceedings no longer agree with those of the law of financial activities, derogatory provisions are added to the common law still applicable. The same applies to, in particular, public offers and privatizations. Finally, specific banking and financial provisions are intended to apply during the merger implementation process. For example, the banking and financial specificity is taken into account in the evaluation of the entities and in the constitution of the new company resulting from the merger. Thus, the consideration of banking rules entails an attack on the free choice of the corporate form by the partners. Moreover, the banking rules derogate from the provisions of company law concerning the minimum capital of joint-stock companies.

494. – In Community law, the protectionism of certain Member States reveals the specificity of banking. Moreover, the significant obstacles to European mergers are, in particular, linked to the insufficiency of rules from a European source. This is materialized by the absence of coordination of the European rules governing mergers with banking law, by the insufficient coordination of the provisions applicable to banks in Europe as well as by the absence of a legal regime for cross-border mergers. Nevertheless, developments, such as the adoption of new European business groupings taking account of banking specificity are likely to favor these European banking concentrations.

495. – Banking and financial specificity are therefore taken into account in concentration mechanisms. Correlatively, the specificity of the controls applicable to these operations is legitimized by the protection of the banking and financial system.

Title 2: The specificity of controls legitimized by the protection of the banking and financial system

496. – The law of 24/01/1984, known as the banking law, replaced a framework that had become unsuitable with provisions common to all establishments now under the authority of the same supervisory bodies. It was modified by the law on the modernization of financial activities of 02/07/1996 which enshrines the unity of the financial market while maintaining the specificity of financial intermediation in relation to credit businesses. This has profoundly transformed the sector by establishing imperfect competition, but which has allowed the development of the movement of concentration.

497. – Thus, free competition is instituted, but this freedom is corrected by a series of controls tending to control and regulate it. The regulation allows the organization, the maintenance and the durability of a balance in a whole. “Regulation is then a kind of support for the economy between abandonment and being put under guardianship”. A balance in the sector is built and maintained by regulation because the sector is both open to competition and not abandoned to competition.

498. – On parle de droit réglementaire parce qu’on observe un nouveau rapport entre le droit et l’économie. C’est une relation d’organisation et de contrainte détachée du passage obligé par l’Etat et son organisation administrative. Cette loi de régulation est une loi régie par l’analyse téléologique avec les dangers qu’elle représente. Au sens technique du terme, cela signifie que la fin justifie et crée les moyens. La méthode requise est donc avant tout guidée par l’efficacité, qui est le corollaire de l’instrumentalisation du droit. Par conséquent, l’objectif réglementaire établit les pouvoirs de ce droit. En même temps, il les fonde et il les limite. Les autorités en charge de la régulation doivent disposer de tous les pouvoirs nécessaires à la régulation, mais uniquement de ceux qui sont indispensables. De la même manière, la loi est un instrument parmi d’autres pour atteindre les objectifs recherchés. Logiquement, la préservation de l’équilibre justifie des solutions non directement déduites de la loi mais sans lesquelles la réglementation est invalide.

499. – Si la doctrine est unanime à considérer que le droit boursier constitue incontestablement un droit de régulation, l’affirmation est moins claire pour le droit bancaire. En effet, le système bancaire est traditionnellement très réglementé. Néanmoins, en se référant aux définitions de la régulation proposées par Mme Frison-Roche, on peut souligner que le système bancaire est régulé. En effet, dans un premier sens du terme, la régulation serait « une intervention de nature politique dans un secteur qui l’exige parce que les intérêts de la Nation sont en jeu ». Sans aucun doute, les règles applicables au secteur bancaire visent à protéger le système bancaire et, corrélativement, à défendre les intérêts de la nation. Dans un deuxième type d’utilisation, la régulation interviendrait dans la mesure où « un secteur serait amené à se déployer autour d’une règle économiquement non spontanée ». Incontestablement, le respect des règles prudentielles n’est pas spontané. C’est pour cette raison que le législateur a créé des autorités bancaires chargées de contrôler leur application effective. La troisième définition de la régulation proposée en fait un « moyen dynamique de faire passer un secteur d’un état à un autre ». Cependant, certes, la loi bancaire ainsi que les textes élaborés par la suite ont généré un processus de déréglementation permettant le passage d’un système bancaire régulé à un système régulé. Continuons notre argumentation. « La régulation peut aussi être la conséquence d’une décision politique, lorsque le Parlement a jugé opportun de laisser se développer des comportements concurrentiels mais aussi jugé nécessaire de maintenir le secteur sous des impératifs qui lui sont étrangers ». La régulation est alors le « moyen dynamique de maintenir les grands équilibres d’un secteur ». Elle constitue un ensemble de techniques définitivement rattachées au secteur concerné. A notre avis, l’objectif du législateur était d’introduire une concurrence entre les établissements de crédit. Cependant, il a également été guidé par des impératifs non concurrentiels lors de la conception des contrôles visant la stabilité du système bancaire. En conséquence, on peut considérer que le système bancaire est régulé par des autorités appliquant les procédures et règles prudentielles prévues par le Code monétaire et financier. La régulation est alors le « moyen dynamique de maintenir les grands équilibres d’un secteur ». Elle constitue un ensemble de techniques définitivement rattachées au secteur concerné. A notre avis, l’objectif du législateur était d’introduire une concurrence entre les établissements de crédit. Cependant, il a également été guidé par des impératifs non concurrentiels lors de la conception des contrôles visant la stabilité du système bancaire. En conséquence, on peut considérer que le système bancaire est régulé par des autorités appliquant les procédures et règles prudentielles prévues par le Code monétaire et financier. La régulation est alors le « moyen dynamique de maintenir les grands équilibres d’un secteur ». Elle constitue un ensemble de techniques définitivement rattachées au secteur concerné. A notre avis, l’objectif du législateur était d’introduire une concurrence entre les établissements de crédit. Cependant, il a également été guidé par des impératifs non concurrentiels lors de la conception des contrôles visant la stabilité du système bancaire. En conséquence, on peut considérer que le système bancaire est régulé par des autorités appliquant les procédures et règles prudentielles prévues par le Code monétaire et financier. elle a également été guidée par des impératifs non concurrentiels lors de la conception des contrôles visant la stabilité du système bancaire. En conséquence, on peut considérer que le système bancaire est régulé par des autorités appliquant les procédures et règles prudentielles prévues par le Code monétaire et financier. elle a également été guidée par des impératifs non concurrentiels lors de la conception des contrôles visant la stabilité du système bancaire. En conséquence, on peut considérer que le système bancaire est régulé par des autorités appliquant les procédures et règles prudentielles prévues par le Code monétaire et financier.

500. – Précisons tout de suite que ce qui nous intéresse relève de la régulation bancaire et boursière. S’agissant de la réglementation bancaire, c’est la réglementation de l’accès à la profession qui est mise en œuvre. Celui-ci s’exerce à travers l’agrément des établissements de crédit et le contrôle des participations qui prend la forme d’une vérification du maintien de l’agrément initial. S’agissant donc du système de régulation boursière, c’est la régulation du marché lui-même qui est en cause. En réalité, seule la régulation des offres publiques est demandée.

501. – Les opérations de concentration sont donc soumises au contrôle de la loi bancaire qui veille généralement au bon fonctionnement du système bancaire et à la sécurité de la clientèle. Celle-ci prévoit les conditions d’autorisation des prises de participation dans les banques.

502. – In addition, stock market law intervenes in favor of the proper functioning of the financial markets. It provides for the conditions of admissibility of public offers and their conduct. In general, it oversees the protection of savings, the quality of investor information, the equality of shareholders, the fairness of transactions and the transparency of the financial markets.

503. – Now, the two particular objects which we have just identified present a difference in kind. The regulation of public offers is a regulation of means, while the regulation of equity investments in a credit institution is a regulation of ends. Indeed, the banking provisions implemented are directly interested in the institutions that make up the banking system. They aim to protect them through prudential controls. It is a set of rules, ratios and thresholds that the competent national authorities control to ensure the sound financial health of credit institutions. On the contrary, the law of public offers is largely uninterested in the fate of the initiating or target companies. They are only indirectly affected. Effectively, the heart of public offer law is the market. Companies are therefore only concerned insofar as their behavior affects this market. The goal is to remove all obstacles to an informed market decision.

504. – This difference in nature explains the differences in vocation of each system and their respective logic. As a regulation of ends, banking regulation tends to be driven by a logic with a very political content in the sense that it aims to define objectives in terms of opportunity and to conduct action to achieve them. On the contrary, stock market regulation, regulation of means, tends to be animated by a logic with little political content. The future of the companies concerned does not matter: neutrality is its policy. It is this essential difference which is the basis of the duality of the logics implemented. Duality, which reflects the hesitation of public authorities between two orientations that are difficult to reconcile: stock market free trade and banking protectionism.

505. – Nevertheless, beyond the possible conflict between banking and stock market controls, a complementarity of these can be observed. They aim to achieve a specific fundamental objective which makes it possible to overcome their duality: the protection of the banking and financial system.

506. – We are going to demonstrate the veracity of this hypothesis through all of our developments. For the sake of clarity and education, it should be highlighted that this specific protection is carried out thanks to banking controls (chapter 1) which must be coordinated with the other concentration controls (chapter 2).

Chapter 1: The specificity of banking controls

507. – Undoubtedly, banking controls were instituted with the aim of ensuring the security and proper functioning of the banking system. The originality of these controls is linked to the increased systemic risk generated by these concentrations which reinforce the need for regulation. In fact, the importance of the groups created may possibly lead to an increase in the risk of saturation of the payment systems and to insufficient coverage of deposits. But the central argument is that of “too big to fail”. Beyond a certain size, which varies from one country to another and, in the same country, from one period to another, a credit institution cannot fail without generating contagion effects, a major systemic risk. The monetary authorities will do everything to avoid it. Since then, these “mega-banks” could benefit from a de facto public guarantee, which would reinforce moral hazard. The latter could thus choose to engage in more risky and volatile activities, considering themselves assured of being saved in the event of difficulties. Banking concentrations can therefore weaken the banking system, which is why reinforced control is, in our opinion, necessary.

508. – It is in the direction of deregulation that the choice of the French government has been made. Deregulation does not mean fewer rules, but a redeployment of standards. It requires regulation. Thus, the banking law, amended by the law on the modernization of financial activities, has put in place a process of controlled liberalization of the banking and financial system. This has resulted in the creation of original supervisory authorities (section 1) which exercise extensive banking supervision (section 2).

Section 1: The originality of the banking regulatory authorities

509. – The banking law has unified the supervision that weighs on all credit institutions. The profession is regulated by a certain number of institutions whose organization and competence are original. The law on the modernization of financial activities, for its part, introduced the bank into the securities business. The unity of the financial market is thus consecrated in order to ensure better regulation. It follows from this duality of functions that the supervisory bodies of credit institutions also control investment firms. They therefore see their competence extended and their name modified.

510. – These bodies have various and even uncertain legal structures. Thus, for example, the question of whether the Committee for Credit Institutions and Investment Firms can be qualified as an independent administrative authority is legally disputed. Indeed, the CECEI is not qualified by the law of 01/24/1984. This stipulates that “a Committee of Credit Institutions and Investment Firms is hereby established (…), the full members of which are chosen from within the National Council for Credit and Securities”. The majority doctrine, based on this article, sees in it only an emanation of the National Credit and Title Council and not a real independent authority. However, part of the doctrine has suggested, since the birth of this Committee, to qualify it as an independent administrative authority. This qualification subsequently met with a certain echo in the doctrine. Even today, such a position is defended by several specialists in banking law such as Mr. Bonneau. In this sense, the public report of the Council of State on the independent administrative authorities expressly refers to the CECEI on several occasions. Finally, the Committee was even described as an independent administrative authority during the parliamentary debate preceding the adoption of the law relating to new economic regulations. the Council of State’s public report on the independent administrative authorities expressly refers to the CECEI on several occasions. Finally, the Committee was even described as an independent administrative authority during the parliamentary debate preceding the adoption of the law relating to new economic regulations. the Council of State’s public report on the independent administrative authorities expressly refers to the CECEI on several occasions. Finally, the Committee was even described as an independent administrative authority during the parliamentary debate preceding the adoption of the law relating to new economic regulations.
However, for lack of certainty, we must be content with the sui generis qualification proposed by the CECEI itself, which defines itself as “a collegial administrative authority to which decision-making power has been entrusted vis-à-vis the banking profession by the law of 24/01/1984 (…)”. As regards the Banking Commission, the texts qualify it as an administrative jurisdiction. Admittedly, the latter does not participate in the elaboration of the rules of law. However, its role of controlling an economic sector brings this Commission closer to the other independent administrative authorities. In addition, the qualification of administrative jurisdiction is unnecessary since the said powers are not dependent on this qualification. Also, is it possible to estimate, without sticking to the legal qualification,

511. – Logically, the lack of certainty as to the qualification of independent administrative authorities leads us to seek a more adequate qualification. It seems to us that only the notion of regulatory authority can offer a certain unity. This qualification can be retained insofar as they are each intended to regulate the banking system through their prudential controls.

512. – Consequently, regulatory authorities responsible for enforcing the rules relating to the particularism of the banking and financial system have been put in place. These are the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee (§ 1) and the Banking Commission (§ 2).

§ 1: The Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee

513. – The CECEI is subject to a specific operation (A). In addition, his competence is extensive and multidisciplinary. This allows it to carry out extensive control of banking concentrations. Changes made to essential elements of the position of credit institutions and investment firms, which were first approved by the Committee at the start of their existence, are subject to prior authorization by it ( B).

A/ The specificity of the operation of the CECEI

514. – Its operation is governed by general rules and by rules specific to certain types of decision.

515. – The law on new economic regulations has made its operation more transparent by providing in particular for the publication in the Official Journal of internal regulations.

516. – Many of the members sit there in the capacity of leader of this or that administrative institution. This tends to increase the legitimacy of the functioning of the regulatory authority because it is the place where other institutions meet. This also tends to encourage de facto “interregulation”. However, the effectiveness of the operational independence of the CECEI is weakened.

517. – The law relating to new economic regulations broadened its composition. It included an adviser to the Court of Cassation and increased the presence of representatives of trade union organizations representing staff. The latter participate fully in the activities of the Committee by sitting on it. The challenge is to increase the credibility of this body, particularly in terms of its independence from constituted bodies and conventional administrations. On the one hand, this increase in bank union representatives in control bodies is a means of taking into account the concerns of employees in the procedures for controlling financial movements. On the other hand, it is a means of reversing the relationship of subordination which weighs on the employees with the aim of better balancing the balance of power. It should be noted that the CECEI is the only French regulatory authority involving trade unions in its operation.

518. – In principle, the CECEI meets monthly. However, particular emergencies, in particular in the event of banking concentration, may require the holding of additional meetings. Thus, in 2003, during the examination of Crédit Agricole’s public offer for Crédit Lyonnais, the CECEI organized four extraordinary meetings.

519. – Law No. 92-665 of 16/07/1992 made any person who participates or has participated in the Committee’s deliberations or activities subject to professional secrecy.

520. – All decisions of the Committee are taken by majority vote, must be reasoned, and are subject to appeal before the administrative jurisdiction.

521. – Enfin, le règlement intérieur du CECEI émane de diverses dispositions particulières de la loi du 24/01/1984 modifiée et insérée dans le code monétaire et financier. Il n’y a pas de délai uniforme pour que le Comité se prononce sur les demandes qui lui sont soumises. Ainsi, pour délivrer une licence bancaire, le Comité statue dans les douze mois suivant la demande. Toutefois, pour l’agrément autorisant la fourniture d’un ou plusieurs services d’investissement à un établissement de crédit ou pour celui d’une entreprise d’investissement, il dispose d’un délai de trois mois pour statuer à compter de la transmission de la demande. En ce qui concerne les autorisations de prise de participation prévues par la réglementation, le Comité dispose d’un délai de trois mois pour les établissements de crédit.

522. – Après avoir démontré que le CECEI a des règles de fonctionnement spécifiques, il faut également prouver que le contrôle qu’il effectue est spécifique.

B/ La spécificité du contrôle du CECEI

523. – Le CECEI est chargé de missions de contrôle spécifiques auprès des établissements de crédit (1). L’exercice de ces missions génère des critiques sur la légitimité de cette autorité de régulation (2).

1/ Missions de contrôle spécifiques auprès des établissements de crédit

524. – Le CECEI est indispensable dans le cadre du contrôle des concentrations bancaires. En effet, il est chargé de veiller au bon fonctionnement du système bancaire et à la protection de la clientèle. Ainsi, il doit prendre toutes les décisions individuelles prévues par les dispositions législatives ou réglementaires applicables aux établissements de crédit, à l’exception de celles qui relèvent de la Commission bancaire.
Concrètement, il est chargé de délivrer les agréments et autorisations de prise de participation.

525. – Depuis l’affaire BNP/Société Générale/Paribas, elle s’est imposée comme une véritable autorité de marché. En effet, en prenant une série de décisions successives sur les conditions d’acceptabilité du rachat de la Société Générale et de Paribas par la BNP, elle a élargi le champ de son contrôle. Elle s’est dotée d’une réelle capacité d’appréciation de l’opportunité économique des opérations. Cependant, il est louable de se demander si ce pouvoir est compatible avec son objet légal.

526. – Il règne donc en maître quasi absolu sur la structure des établissements de crédit et des entreprises d’investissement. Concrètement, elle exerce un contrôle technique spécifique sur les concentrations bancaires afin de préserver l’équilibre du système bancaire et financier. Cependant, assurer la stabilité du système nécessite d’abord de garantir la stabilité de toutes les institutions qui le composent et, en particulier, de veiller à ce qu’elles fassent l’objet d’une « gestion saine et prudente ».

527. – Ainsi, le Comité est compétent pour autoriser les prises de participation dans les établissements de crédit ainsi que les établissements financiers qui détiennent au moins un établissement de crédit.

528. – Inoltre, la legge sulla modernizzazione delle attività finanziarie del 02/07/1996 ha esteso la sua competenza alle autorizzazioni necessarie per esercitare l’attività di prestatore di servizi di investimento in Francia, nonché per gestire il passaporto europeo in questo settore. La sua gestione, sia per quanto riguarda gli stabilimenti di diritto francese che quelli comunitari, conferma la specificità della sua missione.

529. – Fino all’adozione della legge sulla sicurezza finanziaria, se il progetto prevedeva servizi di investimento, il Comitato doveva coordinare strettamente la propria azione con il Consiglio dei mercati finanziari e con la Commissione di borsa nel caso di gestione di portafogli per conto terzi. Infatti, queste due organizzazioni dovevano dare la loro approvazione o il loro rifiuto al programma di attività dei servizi di investimento. Tale approvazione era necessaria per ogni servizio di investimento prestato, che comprendeva la ricezione e trasmissione di ordini per conto terzi. Infine, il CECEI era tenuto a rifiutare l’approvazione a una società il cui programma di attività non era stato approvato dal Consiglio dei mercati finanziari. La Legge sulla Tutela Finanziaria ha mantenuto l’approvazione del programma di attività relativo all’attività di gestione di portafogli per conto terzi, ma eliminato quello relativo agli altri servizi di investimento. La Financial Markets Authority, che ha sostituito il Financial Markets Council e la Stock Exchange Commission, deve quindi solo intervenire in sede di autorizzazione in materia di gestione di portafogli per approvare il programma di attività su tale attività. Non è tenuto ad approvare il programma di attività relativo agli altri servizi di investimento. pertanto non resta che intervenire in fase di approvazione in termini di gestione del portafoglio per approvare il programma di attività relativo a tale attività. Non è tenuto ad approvare il programma di attività relativo agli altri servizi di investimento. pertanto non resta che intervenire in fase di approvazione in termini di gestione del portafoglio per approvare il programma di attività relativo a tale attività.

530. – Per evitare che l’accostamento di tali procedure prolunghi indebitamente la durata dell’esame degli atti, o addirittura dia luogo a divergenze interpretative, le segreterie degli enti hanno tenuto periodiche riunioni, che hanno consentito un primo esame degli atti. Ciò è stato osservato in recenti fusioni come il caso BNP/Société Générale/Paribas.

531. – All’inizio del 1999, Société Générale e Paribas hanno raggiunto un accordo di fusione. In data 02/11/1999, la CECEI ha autorizzato Société Générale ad assumere il controllo maggioritario di Paribas subordinatamente ad un certo numero di impegni di quest’ultima volti a rafforzare l’organizzazione di controllo del nuovo gruppo. Tali impegni miravano a garantire la tutela del sistema bancario e finanziario.

532. – Tuttavia, in data 09/03/1999, il BNP che si è trovato emarginato da questa offerta pubblica, ha reagito in modo del tutto inatteso contrattaccando. Pertanto, ha lanciato un’offerta pubblica di scambio su queste due banche con l’obiettivo di creare SBP, una potente banca di rete, che avrebbe riunito Société Générale, BNP e Paribas.

533. – Tale iniziativa ha colto di sorpresa non solo le banche destinatarie, ma anche le autorità pubbliche ei mercati. Data l’entità dell’operazione, il Ministro dell’Economia e delle Finanze ha pubblicato, di concerto con il Presidente della CECEI, un comunicato in cui affermava di “esaminare attentamente le conseguenze di questa operazione…”. arbitrare tra due visioni del futuro del sistema bancario francese.

534. – On 29/03/1999, the Committee authorized BNP to take control of at least 50.01% of the voting rights of Paribas and of Société Générale. In its decision, the Committee therefore considered only the possibility of majority control. It considered, in particular, that the proposed operation seemed suitable to meet the need for customer security. It did not require the BNP to mobilize additional financial resources. Thus, it seemed compatible with the proper functioning of the French banking system. The authorization concerned the potential change of control of more than 100 establishments.

535. – In the press release published at the end of the meeting of 03/29/1999, the Committee recalled that each of its authorizations is valid only for the project referred to it and under the conditions on which it based her decision. It has therefore reserved the right to examine, on the one hand, any higher bids which could subsequently be launched, and on the other hand, situations created by the possible existence of minority holdings.

536. – On 14/06/1999, Société Générale raised its offer for Paribas. On July 1, 1999, the Committee authorized Société Générale to take control of Paribas to at least 50.01%, subject to undertakings intended to take into account the payment of a balancing payment and the announcement of the implementation of a share buyback program.

537. – At the end of its meeting of 01/07/1999, the Committee indicated that, in the event that the shareholders did not decide clearly between the two initiators and where the latter nevertheless wished to acquire minority interests, it would examine the clear and concerted industrial solutions proposed.

538. – The Committee only considered the possibility of minority control in a press release dated 07/07/1999. He specified that he would decide on the existence of an effective power to control the establishments concerned. For the first time, it admitted a minority takeover, but required that it confer control on the offeror.

539. – After BNP announced new conditions for its bid for Société Générale and Paribas, the Committee authorized it to carry out its project. It took into account the commitments made by BNP concerning the accounting and prudential treatment of the certificates of guaranteed value that it had offered to the shareholders of Paribas. The latter therefore specified the conditions for the use of certificates of guaranteed value given that nothing had yet been provided for their handling by a bank and that no prudential control existed in the matter. He ultimately considered that the BNP operation could be accepted “because of the commitments made by the bank”. They concerned in particular “the method of valuation at their nominal value, certificates of guaranteed value, their immediate deduction of the amount of capital used to calculate the prudential ratios and the gradual constitution of a specifically dedicated reserve, contributing to the maintenance of the solvency of the institution, in particular during the possible payment of the certificates of guaranteed value at their maturity ” . The Committee has therefore taken all measures to ensure the protection of the banking and financial system. Furthermore, provision has been made for the eventuality of an operation subsequently having the effect of causing BNP to lose the control mentioned above. This would have to request a new authorization from the Committee, which would decide, in particular, with regard to the existence of an effective power to control the establishments concerned.

540. – On 07/16/1999, in an explanatory letter, Mr. Jean-Claude Trichet, Governor of the Banque de France and Chairman of the CECEI, answered questions asked by Société Générale. He indicated, on the one hand, that the 50.01% threshold must be understood in terms of voting rights, and on the other hand, that the request for a concerted solution in the event of the acquisition of a minority stake was justified by concern for the proper functioning of the banking system.

541. – On 08/17/1999, the Committee took note of and carried out an initial examination of the situation resulting from the provisional results of the public offers published on 08/14/1999.

542. – On 08/24/1999, the Committee met again. It noted the acquisition of the majority stake in Paribas and heard additional explanations from the presidents of BNP and Société Générale on the situation resulting from the outcome of the public exchange offers. He had never had to render a decision in a “hostile” situation where the initiator claimed to have acquired effective control while the target defended the opposite position. It examined the various possible options and the risks they entailed, particularly with regard to the proper functioning of the banking system. He let it be known that he would make his decision at a meeting to be held on Friday 27/08/1999.

543. – On 27/08/1999, the Committee met for the last time on this matter and heard the presidents of BNP and Société Générale. It was on 28/08/1999 that the Committee announced its decision, the session having ended at 4 am. It found that, given the results of the offer, BNP clearly did not have the effective power to control Societe Generale. He observed that despite the efforts made by BNP, in liaison with Société Générale, it had not been possible to arrive at the presentation of a clear and concerted industrial solution. In other words, the two banks had failed to strike a strategic deal. Under these conditions, the Committee decided not to authorize BNP to hold a stake representing 31. 8% of voting rights at meetings of Société Générale. The latter considered that, in a non-concerted framework and taking into account the shareholding structure of this establishment, the holding by BNP of a stake which did not correspond to a situation of effective power of control, was of a nature disrupting the management of Societe Generale. However, because of its place within the French banking system, the risk of disruption of its management was likely to thwart the overall functioning of the banking system. was likely to disrupt the management of Societe Generale. However, because of its place within the French banking system, the risk of disruption of its management was likely to thwart the overall functioning of the banking system. was likely to disrupt the management of Societe Generale. However, because of its place within the French banking system,

544. – This means that the Committee intended to agree to give its authorization only if the two banks undertook to act in concert, a requirement of which one may wonder whether it is fully in line with the power of this body. Indeed, on reading Regulation No. 96-16 of the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee, it seems that the acquisition of a simple non-concerted minority stake is not ruled out in principle.

545. – Thus, it is regrettable that this decision was not appealed to a court. It is interesting to find out why the Council of State has had to hear disputes against decisions of the Committee only exceptionally. According to the Banque de France, the fact that the latter “only very rarely give rise to appeals and, in particular, that none of those concerning matters of great importance has been challenged before a court, attests to the good acceptance of its decisions and therefore the relevance of its assessments as more generally, that of its methods and procedures”. In our opinion, this argument is absolutely inaccurate. The banks do not appeal because of the too long delay in the examination of the case. Gold, economic operators cannot remain in legal uncertainty for several years. In addition, a beneficial concentration at a given time will no longer be so a few years later.

546. – Consequently, it seems that this decision of the CECEI is open to criticism. More generally, it seems that the exercise of the missions of this authority generates criticisms of its legitimacy.

2/ Criticisms of the legitimacy of CECEI control

547. – The main controversies concern the lack of transparency (a) and the autonomy of control (b).

a/ Insufficient transparency

548. – A criticism must be made concerning the specificity of the control procedure before the CECEI. This lacks transparency, even though the law on new economic regulations has generally strengthened it by limiting the Committee’s margin of appreciation. Article L. 612-4 paragraph 1 of the Monetary and Financial Code provides that a Conseil d’Etat decree specifies the majority and quorum rules governing the deliberations of the Committee. In addition, this article provides that the Rules of Procedure establish the procedures for investigating and examining the files submitted for review by the Committee and in particular the conditions under which it can hear any interested person who can clarify its decision. Finally, there is a possibility of written consultation of the Committee.

549. – In reality, the heart of the problem concerns the publication of the individual decisions of the CECEI. The latter is not required to publish them. Indeed, Article L. 511-10 of the Monetary and Financial Code merely provides for the publication of the list of credit institutions. Moreover, the annual report of the CECEI only mentions the number of decisions of the Committee, their distribution in the fields of its competence as well as certain elements involved in their adoption. In particular, in its reports, the CECEI mentions the factual elements that it takes into consideration to apply the legal conditions of approval. However, this information does not make it possible to know precisely the policy followed by the Committee, which is not without drawback. They may possibly turn out to be partial and prohibit, in any case, to form for oneself an opinion of the decisions taken and of the policy actually followed. This lack of information still prohibits relying on a previous to obtain, in a specific case, a decision along the same lines.

550. – Consequently, since the decisions are not published and accessible to the public, only press releases are likely to give an account of them. However, the distribution of simple press releases, more or less reducing decisions, seems to us in this respect quite insufficient. The press release is more like a brief overview of the decision than a real report. In other words, the press releases of the CECEI do not really allow one to get a precise idea of ​​the reasons that were retained. The latest press release, in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair, is limited to recalling, without specifying them, the assessment criteria of the CECEI. This indicates that the Committee “first noted that in view of the results of the offers, BNP does not clearly hold the effective power of control of Société Générale.

551. – This practice is not without foundation. According to the case law of the Council of State, individual administrative acts in principle escape any publication. This is hardly surprising since no text, of general scope, allows to establish an obligation of publication. The law of 07/17/1978, which envisages the publication of certain non-nominative administrative documents, does not provide for the publication of individual decisions and even prevents it. Admittedly, Article 6 bis recognizes the right of persons to obtain the communication of documents which concern them. However, article 10 paragraph 2, specifies that “the exercise of the right of communication instituted by this title excludes, for its beneficiaries or for third parties, the possibility of reproducing, disseminating or using for commercial purposes the submitted documents”.

But the principle is not without exception. Texts organize the publication of certain individual acts. This is particularly the case with the Commercial Code, which provides for the publication of decisions taken by the competent Competition Council in matters of concentration, agreements and abuse of domination.

Or, tel n’est pas le cas des décisions rendues par le CECEI. L’absence de texte imposant la publication de ses décisions conduit à s’interroger sur les causes de cette opacité. Voulait-on permettre au CECEI de ne pas formaliser ses décisions ? Il ne semble pas. En effet, l’article 15 alinéa 1 du règlement n° 96-16 du 20/12/1996 dispose que « les décisions du comité des établissements de crédit et des entreprises d’investissement prises en application du présent règlement sont notifiées aux demandeurs et entreprises concernés. S’agit-il alors de dispenser le Comité de motiver ses décisions ? Il ne semble pas non plus que, selon l’article 1er de la loi du 11/07/1979, les motifs des décisions administratives, qui notamment refusent une autorisation, doivent être communiqués aux intéressés.

Ainsi, cette absence de publication est peut-être moins due à des raisons relatives au Comité qu’à des raisons relatives aux parties. Cette absence d’accès au texte de la décision se fonde donc sur des considérations au premier rang desquelles figure l’exigence du secret des affaires. Nous savons cependant que dans certaines circonstances, l’information du public est nécessaire. La publication des pactes d’actionnaires en est une illustration.

552. – En réalité, cette opacité pose d’autant plus de questions qu’elle est susceptible d’avoir des conséquences négatives au regard des droits des tiers. La publication des décisions administratives a pour objet de faire courir le délai de recours. Cependant, le communiqué de presse peut être considéré comme une mesure publicitaire. Cependant, il ne permet pas, en fait, à un candidat potentiel d’introduire un recours fondé sur des griefs spécifiques car il n’a pas accès au contenu réel de la décision. Une telle situation n’est pas unique et de nombreux recours sont autorisés contre des décisions implicites. Cependant, l’extrême complexité de ces dossiers de concentration rend difficile l’exercice d’un recours effectif.

553. – L’absence de publicité affecte donc la motivation de la décision. Cette dernière ne peut réellement être appréciée, ce qui constitue une source d’atteinte au principe d’impartialité. On note avec M. Daigre que « (…) [les] décisions du CECEI sont couvertes par la confidentialité des décisions individuelles, ce qui est regrettable et probablement discutable (comment un tiers pourrait-il exercer un recours contre une décision dont il ne connaître la motivation ?) (…) ». Une telle situation n’est pas sans soulever certaines interrogations quant au droit à un procès équitable. Le fort courant jurisprudentiel en faveur de l’application de la Convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales aux autorités de régulation conduit en effet, à analyser cette question à la lumière de ce droit consacré par l’article 6 § 1 de cette convention . Cet article dispose que « toute personne a droit à ce que sa cause soit entendue équitablement, publiquement et dans un délai raisonnable par un tribunal indépendant et impartial, soit des contestations sur ses droits et obligations de caractère civil, soit sur le bien-fondé de toute accusation en matière pénale ». dirigée contre elle ». Un arrêt de la Cour de cassation sur la régulation de la concurrence clarifie les critiques que pourrait encourir le CECEI. L’exigence d’auditions publiques ne serait pas vraiment de nature à menacer le processus décisionnel du CECEI. En effet, la Cour de cassation a considéré que la publicité des débats, et par extension, la publicité de la décision, pouvait être écartée pour des raisons de « souplesse et d’efficacité ». Le secret des affaires pourrait être allégué à l’appui de ce manque de publicité, malgré la faiblesse de cet argument.

554. – Au contraire, les décisions de l’autorité bancaire pourraient utilement être contestées sur le fondement d’un autre principe : celui de l’égalité des armes. En effet, le manque de publicité est susceptible de contraindre les tiers désireux d’agir à former un recours « aveugle » incompatible, sinon avec la lettre de la Convention, du moins avec son esprit. En effet, l’arrêt de la Cour de cassation a révélé le potentiel de cette exigence. Aurait-elle cependant été punissable en cas de recours au Conseil d’Etat contre la décision du CECEI ? Rien n’est moins sûr. En effet, si les juridictions suprêmes appliquent toutes deux l’article 6 § 1 aux autorités de régulation, elles ne le font, conformément à la jurisprudence de la Cour européenne, qu’en matière contentieuse. Aussi, les principes du droit à un procès équitable sont appliqués, pour le moment, uniquement aux procédures de sanction de ces autorités. Dans le cadre des agréments et autorisations de prise de contrôle de banques, aucune procédure de ce type n’est engagée. Les principes tirés de l’article 6 § 1 ont donc peu de chances d’être sanctionnés par le juge. Néanmoins, la dynamique d’application de cet article ne permet pas de préjuger de la solution qui pourrait être adoptée et le risque de censure ne peut être exclu, notamment au sens large de la notion de procédure de sanction. Les principes tirés de l’article 6 § 1 ont donc peu de chances d’être sanctionnés par le juge. Néanmoins, la dynamique d’application de cet article ne permet pas de préjuger de la solution qui pourrait être adoptée et le risque de censure ne peut être exclu, en particulier au sens large de la notion de procédure de sanction. Les principes tirés de l’article 6 § 1 ont donc peu de chances d’être sanctionnés par le juge. Néanmoins, la dynamique d’application de cet article ne permet pas de préjuger de la solution qui pourrait être adoptée et le risque de censure ne peut être exclu, notamment au sens large de la notion de procédure de sanction.

555. – The CECEI should therefore adopt a more open position and communicate its decisions so that the public knows its motivation, while respecting business secrecy. Mr. Philippe Richard, Deputy Director of the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Department, did not show himself to be hostile to this proposal during our aforementioned interview. The European Commission could be taken as a model, because it publishes its decisions, while respecting business secrecy. Thus, for example, the market shares held by the controlled companies are not disclosed. It is simply revealed the range in which the market share of the entity in question is situated on the various segments.

In addition, a delayed publication, and not immediate would also be likely to solve the difficulty.

Finally, a selection could be made by the CECEI to ensure the publication of the most interesting decisions. Moreover, the Court of Cassation carries out a relatively severe one since its bulletin includes only 20% of the judgments rendered. The other decisions, without being officially published, are broadcast. Only decisions without interest are excluded from any publication or distribution.

556. – It seems possible to consider that the CECEI was sensitive to the criticisms and proposals put forward by the doctrine. Indeed, in 2003, the latter published its decision to authorize the concentration between Crédit Agricole and Crédit Lyonnais. We hope that this practice of authority will be perpetuated. Nevertheless, nothing is less certain. Only legislative intervention would be likely to remove all uncertainty. 557. – The legislator should indeed intervene to solve the problem. It could have done so within the framework of the law relating to new economic regulations of 15/05/2001. However, the uncertainties raised by the lack of publicity of certain decisions have not found an answer.

558. – No provision has confirmed the practice of decisions on minimalist advertising, and for good reason. Such validation for the future would have been useless. Indeed, the practices in question directly affect the rights of those regulated and in particular their right to an effective remedy. However, if this dysfunction were to be qualified as a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by the domestic or European judge, the law validating this practice would not have sheltered the decisions of the regulatory authorities from judicial censorship. In the case of an international convention, the judge would indeed have to reject the argument based on respect for the law.

559. – Consequently, the only possibility open to the legislator was to allow the publicity of the decisions themselves and to waive the confidentiality of individual decisions. The government did not want it. A single change is made in terms of the communication of documents and stems from article 21 of the law relating to new economic regulations. Article L. 612-6 of the Monetary and Financial Code is supplemented by a paragraph worded as follows: “Notwithstanding the legislative and regulatory provisions governing professional secrecy, the Credit Institutions and Investment Firms Committee may, with the prior agreement of the natural or legal person who sent him documents for the investigation of the file concerning him, communicate some of the said documents to any natural or legal person who requests it”. This provision is insufficient and has not met this persistent need for publication.

560. – We can only regret this lack of transparency, whereas it is a question of a decision, just as much as the judgments and judgments rendered by the courts, which are for their part public. The CECEI is a regulatory authority and as such, it should respect the principle of transparency which would give legitimacy and indisputable effectiveness to its regulatory powers. The lack of transparency in this case is obvious and inevitably leads to suspicion.

b/ The controversy over the autonomy of control

561. – The decisions of the CECEI would be influenced by the political power traditionally very present in the banking sector. However, this assertion must be put into perspective. The specific control carried out by the CECEI seems to be gradually acquiring maturity and autonomy. A parallel can be drawn with other sectors of the economy in which the state has been very present and where deregulation has taken place. The specific control initially has difficulties in legitimizing itself, but gradually, it acquires its autonomy. Thus, as part of the deregulation of the telecommunications sector, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority was created. She was initially accused of bias but gradually managed to justify her control. In the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case, the CECEI has also proven that it can resolve disputes impartially and independently. He thus demonstrated that compliance with the legal rule should prevail over political inclinations.

562. – It is clear that the banking regulatory authority found itself in a very complex situation. It has been the subject of criticism which has been amplified in particular because of the politicization and media coverage of this affair. 563. – Indeed, supporters of a liberal economy welcomed the initiative taken by the BNP, whose audacity appeared as a sign of emancipation from the State. The proponents of this vision of the economy therefore reacted badly to the Banque de France’s attempts at conciliation and to the CECEI’s desire to impose a concerted solution.

564. – On the other hand, the proponents of a market economy tempered by the action of the State feared a fight exclusively arbitrated by the markets. Thus, some politicians have expressed their wish to see the government intervene more or less strongly, even if it means influencing the regulatory authority.

565. – Moreover, political leaders on the right and on the left were unanimous in considering that France should have a world-class banking group. Thus, Mr. Chevènement, Minister of the Interior, qualified as a real “attack against the national interest”, the decision of the CECEI not to authorize the BNP to take control of Société Générale. According to him, this interest “obviously commanded the broadest possible grouping, required by the promotion and defense of our economic interests in globalization”. In addition, he qualified the CECEI as an “irresponsible committee of bankers independent of any democratic authority” and considered that this highlighted “the decay of the State”.

566. – Concerning, more specifically, the intervention of the media in this case, it was spectacular. These have been very active. Le Monde newspaper interviewed a number of observers to express their opinions. Judgments have often been harsh on the combination in France of “state archaeo-interventionism and protectionism” in the face of foreign takeovers: “Mr. French World Bank. This cocky obsession contravenes the Anglo-Saxon philosophy of laissez-faire”. The criticisms were also very virulent with regard to the CECEI. Thus, Mr. Henri Gibier described “the CECEI [of] a mysterious committee which makes its decisions in the early, pale mornings”.

567. – Consequently, for several years now, the movement to restructure the banking system has placed the CECEI and the Directorate of Credit Establishments and Investment Firms at the heart of criticism. According to the words of Mr. Philippe Richard, “in concrete terms, in 1998, one out of three credit establishments and almost two out of three investment firms had to contact the CECEI for a change in their situation. For 1998 alone, the Committee was called upon to rule on 427 credit establishments and 106 investment firms. This therefore represented 533 decisions to be rendered and as many requests to be processed for the DECEI”. All these decisions cannot satisfy all the parties, especially when the operations concerned give rise to problems. The instruction is therefore most often very thorough and is the subject of negotiations. The DECEI also often questions the General Secretariat of the Commission Bancaire in order to obtain additional analysis on certain prudential aspects of the project. Indeed, the Banking Commission is the second bank supervisory body.

§ 2: The Banking Commission

568. – The banking law of 24/01/1984 instituted a Banking Commission. It is appropriate to specify the characteristic traits of this eminent authority in the supervision of banks. However, merger control is carried out ex ante, whereas the Commission Bancaire exercises essentially ex post control. This explains why the study of this body has a secondary interest, except with regard to the control of financial companies in which the Banking Commission plays a role in matters of merger control. This constitutes proof that this authority assists and completes the control exercised by the CECEI (A). In addition, closer collaboration between the Banking Commission and the Insurance Control Commission has been put in place, confirming the phenomenon of bancassurance (B).

A/ Complementarity between the CECEI and the Banking Commission

569. – The Banking Commission exercises a mission of sanctioning breaches noted. It is for this reason that the legislator describes it as an administrative jurisdiction. For its other activities and decisions, it is unquestionably an administrative authority.

570. – From this difference arises a duality of deliberation regime and procedure. As an administrative jurisdiction, except in an emergency, it deliberates validly only when all of its members are present or represented. In other cases, it is sufficient that the absolute majority of its members be present or represented. In the event of an equal division of the votes, the vote of the president is preponderant.

571. – The dual nature of the Commission also has an impact on the rules applicable to appeals lodged against its decisions. With regard to the decisions rendered in its capacity as a court, in the absence of a text providing for an appeal procedure, they can only be the subject of an appeal in cassation before the Council of State. As for actions for liability, in accordance with the principles of the case law of the Council of State, the authority which attaches to res judicata opposes the bringing into play of the responsibility of the State which would result from the very content of a judgment that has become final. On the other hand, with regard to its activity as an administrative authority, and in particular as it carries out its mission of control,

572. – L’article L. 631-1 du code monétaire et financier prévoit, pour sa part, la possibilité de transmettre des informations aux autorités financières françaises, pour l’exercice de leurs missions respectives. Il est particulièrement remarquable qu’une collaboration importante existe entre la Commission bancaire et le CECEI, d’autant plus que ces autorités sont toutes deux rattachées à la Banque de France et que les agents travaillent dans les mêmes locaux.

573. – La loi bancaire a confié plusieurs missions à la commission bancaire. Il s’agit du contrôle des établissements de crédit (1) et des sociétés financières (2).

1/ Surveillance des établissements de crédit

574. – Les missions semblent textuellement générales (a). Néanmoins, celles-ci semblent substantiellement exactes (b).

a/ La généralité textuelle des tâches

575. – La Commission bancaire doit contrôler le respect par les établissements de crédit des dispositions législatives et réglementaires qui leur sont applicables et sanctionner les manquements constatés. Ici, la Commission bancaire peut compléter le contrôle du CECEI en cas de non-respect d’une décision ou d’engagements pris lors de la demande d’autorisation de prise de contrôle. Ainsi, il apparaît comme le bras armé du CECEI.

Le périmètre de cette mission est rédigé en termes très généraux. Il ne semble pas opportun de considérer que cette formulation puisse conférer à la Commission un pouvoir de contrôle et de sanction dans des domaines que le législateur de 1984 n’avait pas prévus. Elle contrôle ainsi le respect par les établissements de crédit des dispositions de la loi bancaire et des textes pris pour son application.

576. – En cas de non-respect de l’une de ces dispositions, il exerce son pouvoir de sanction. En particulier, il peut agir d’office pour engager une procédure disciplinaire.

577. – Par ailleurs, l’article L. 613-1 du code monétaire et financier dispose que la Commission bancaire doit « veiller au respect des règles de bonne conduite de la profession ». Par cette expression, il semble qu’il faille entendre les règles déontologiques qui ne donnent pas lieu à des prescriptions législatives ou réglementaires, faute de quoi cette mission se réduirait à celle de veiller au respect des normes professionnelles.

578. – En réalité, tous ces contrôles visent à protéger le système bancaire. Ainsi, la réalisation de cet objectif met en évidence la grande précision des missions dévolues à la Commission bancaire.

b/ Clarification substantielle des missions

579. – La Commission bancaire examine les conditions de fonctionnement des établissements de crédit et veille à la qualité de leur situation financière. Il s’agit de veiller au respect de normes de gestion qui visent, dans une large mesure, à préserver une situation financière saine, qui ne peut résulter que de conditions d’exploitation satisfaisantes. Ainsi, la loi du 25/06/1999 relative à l’épargne et à la sécurité financière confie à la Commission la mission de contrôler l’efficacité du contrôle interne des banques.

580. – In the event of non-compliance with banking regulations, the latter has the possibility of pronouncing a disciplinary sanction, ranging from a warning to disbarment. This means that he can withdraw, for disciplinary reasons, the accreditation issued by the CECEI. It has, for example, the possibility of sanctioning the non-respect by a credit institution of the commitments made during its concentration and which gave rise to the granting of an authorization by the CECEI. He therefore completes his control.

581. – Cette situation est possible à la suite d’une concentration bancaire, étant donné que celle-ci peut être coûteuse et entraîner des conséquences financières négatives. En effet, toutes les fusions et acquisitions ne s’avèrent pas rentables sur le long terme. Lorsqu’elles ne génèrent pas de réelles synergies, ces opérations ne permettent pas de compenser leur coût de financement et les établissements s’en trouvent fragilisés. Ainsi, ces concentrations peuvent conduire à une dégradation des notations.

582. – The fragility linked to the emergence of new groups, materialized by the need to merge different cultures as well as by the decision to reorient a development strategy justifies the great vigilance of the Banking Commission. Indeed, this situation requires a particularly solid financial base capable of withstanding the delays in setting up and harmonizing the new group, as well as reassuring shareholders and the financial markets.

583. – The preventive treatment of banking crises therefore involves prudential supervision. It consists of a set of rules, ratios and thresholds that the competent national authorities monitor to ensure the sound financial health of credit institutions. In addition to the liquidity and risk division ratios, the prudential system concerns the coverage, by adequate equity and quasi-equity, of counterparty risk and market risk. Additional measures may also be justified by the specific situation of a particular entity. These may include, for example, specific requests regarding the organization of the information system, the structure and attachment of internal control, the specific monitoring of certain activities or entities of the group.

584. – The emergence of new groups of significant size must be studied with regard to overall financial stability in order to avoid the occurrence of systemic risks. Indeed, these financial empires raise questions about the possibility of systemic risks and about the maintenance of financial stability.

585. – In fact, the trend towards banking concentration signifies an extension of the perimeter of “too big too fail” and an accentuated dispersal of shareholding, therefore a potential weakening of banking systems. Within the various financial systems in Europe, any failures of credit institutions are borne by the national deposit guarantee systems. Indeed, the Maastricht Treaty does not assign the function of “lender of last resort” to the European Central Bank. The financing of these systems differs according to the country but the guarantee funds are generally sized to support several “local” crises. On the other hand, it is not up to these guarantee systems to be able to withstand a systemic crisis which, by nature, comes under other types of intervention. Gold, given the intertwining of European banking and financial systems, it is to be expected that certain banking difficulties will cause a major problem through the effect of a shock wave going beyond the national framework to affect the entire area euro. Also, the consequences of the creation, on a European scale, of multi-location and multi-activity groups, likely to have an increased systemic impact, deserve to be examined.

586. – Consequently, in general, the extent of the consequences linked to the consolidation of the banking system justify the controls of the Commission Bancaire. To deal with this, it is necessary to tighten the prudential system for credit institutions. This task of “reprofiling” the Cooke ratio is therefore clearly in interaction with banking concentrations.

587. – Correlatively, these controls can lead to measures that are very detrimental to freedoms in order to achieve the objective of protecting the banking system. In fact, if a credit institution cannot comply with these prudential rules, the Commission Bancaire has the option of “bringing the matter to the Tribunal de grande instance so that (…) the sale of shares held by one or more shareholders by right or fact “. Admittedly, the possibility of a forced transfer of shares can resemble that of article L. 621-59 of the Commercial Code, according to which the Commercial Court can order such an expropriation when the survival of the company so requires. requires. But the specificity of this transfer is that it can be prescribed even outside the framework of collective proceedings.

588. – Undoubtedly, the missions of the Banking Commission with regard to credit institutions are complementary to those exercised by the CECEI and have a similar objective: the protection of the banking system. Regarding the control of financial companies, complementarity can also be observed. Indeed, in this case, the legislator has expressly entrusted the Commission Bancaire with certain powers that are normally vested in the CECEI.

2/ Supervision of financial companies

589. – Pursuant to Law No. 93-1444 of 12/31/1993 and Bank Regulation Committee Regulation No. 94-03 of 12/08/1994, it is the Commission which draws up and updates the list of financial companies. The latter are financial establishments whose subsidiaries are mainly credit establishments, investment firms or financial establishments. At least one of these subsidiaries is a credit institution or an investment firm.

590. – In reality, it is a question of allowing supervision on a consolidated basis of the prudential standards applicable to the establishments that these companies supervise. To this end, financial companies are subject to the requirements applicable to credit institutions with regard to the establishment of consolidated accounts and management standards.

591. – Thus, the Commission Bancaire draws up and updates the list of financial companies over which it exercises supervision on a consolidated basis. This is an exception to the principle according to which, in the banking and financial field, it is the CECEI which performs the so-called “civil status” tasks. Consequently, this prerogative demonstrates that the Banking Commission has a certain importance in the context of the control of concentrations between financial companies.

592. – Ultimately, the Commission Bancaire and the CECEI have complementary functions. The CECEI has a fundamental role with regard to the restructuring of the banking system. However, we have demonstrated that the role of the Commission Bancaire should not be neglected in the context of mergers. This complementarity in control can also be observed between the Banking Commission and the Insurance Control Commission. A collaboration between these last two authorities was thus instituted by a charter signed in 2001.

B/ Reinforced collaboration between the Banking Commission and the Insurance Control Commission

593. – The insurance and banking sectors often prove to be similar, even intrinsically linked, due to the increasingly frequent concentrations between banks and insurance. In addition, it is possible to observe a blurring of the distinctions between certain activities of the two sectors and the convergence of certain control issues such as the internal control of asset management risks and that of conglomerates.

594. – This porosity of the banking and insurance sectors has a fundamental consequence. The propagation of systemic risks from one to the other is increasing. Thus, a new legal solution is needed. It consists of networking the banking and insurance supervisory authorities in their prudential, disciplinary and market regulation tasks. This therefore makes it possible to observe the emergence of “inter-sectoral regulation”.

595. – At Community level, this consideration of the phenomenon of bancassurance has been enshrined in the directive on the supervision of financial conglomerates. The directive retained a relatively broad definition of conglomerate, by adopting a complex formula in which the ratio, if it exceeds 10%, makes a given group a conglomerate. This equation provides a clear view of how equity is allocated within a group, by business. It makes it possible to designate the banking groups which allocate their own funds to activities other than banking, in particular to insurance. The rate of 10% adopted has caused a large number of European groups, but also French ones, to fall within the scope of the directive. A lead supervisor must be designated for any given group. In the spirit of the directive, the leader is chosen according to the dominant activity of the conglomerate, in the country where the head office is located. He therefore coordinates all the other supervisors involved, focusing his vigilance on intra-group transactions and on the concentration of risks within the company.

596. – Questo movimento ha portato alcuni paesi ad attuare riforme fondamentali delle autorità di vigilanza, fino a fusioni complete. È il caso di Gran Bretagna e Germania.

597. – In Francia, va subito precisato che il disegno di legge sulla riforma delle autorità finanziarie prevedeva, oltre alla fusione delle autorità di mercato, un’unione tra la Commissione bancaria e la Commissione di controllo delle assicurazioni. Questa sarebbe stata una vera rivoluzione, perché la prima è posta sotto l’autorità della Banque de France e la seconda sotto quella del Ministero delle Finanze. Se le due commissioni si fossero fuse, il Governatore della Banque de France avrebbe perso il suo diritto di controllo in quanto non ha legittimazione giuridica per esercitare il controllo sul settore assicurativo.

598. – Infine, il ddl di riforma dell’amministrazione finanziaria prevedeva solo una maggiore cooperazione tra la Commissione bancaria e la Commissione di vigilanza assicurativa. Per ragioni politiche, questo disegno di legge è stato congelato. Data l’urgenza di instaurare una più stretta collaborazione tra la Commissione bancaria e la Commissione di controllo delle assicurazioni, è stata comunque firmata una carta di cooperazione tra queste due autorità. Ciò ha permesso di sviluppare il controllo e lo scambio di informazioni.

599. – È stato pertanto organizzato un migliore coordinamento tra tali autorità di controllo. L’accorpamento delle commissioni di controllo dei due settori è avvenuto grazie alla messa in comune dei membri in sessioni congiunte. Inoltre, è stata sviluppata la cooperazione tra i loro dipartimenti, consentendo lo sviluppo di sinergie, scambi di competenze e la diffusione di migliori metodi di controllo.

600. – Questa pratica è stata avallata dal Financial Security Act. Quest’ultima, infatti, prevede che il presidente della Commissione per il controllo delle assicurazioni, delle mutue e degli enti previdenziali, o un suo rappresentante, sia ormai uno dei membri della Commissione bancaria. Il legislatore precisa che le due autorità si riuniscono congiuntamente almeno due volte l’anno e, secondo necessità, su argomenti di comune interesse.

601. – Di conseguenza, le autorità appena descritte si sono unite allo scopo di svolgere controlli più efficaci. L’attuazione di questi controlli deve quindi essere studiata.

Sezione 2: L’attuazione di ampi controlli bancari

602. – Evidentemente il legislatore è stato guidato dalla qualità e coesione dell’azionariato, dall’attitudine e competenza dei dirigenti, dalla stabilità delle condizioni di esercizio dell’attività e dalla buona organizzazione interna degli stabilimenti. I controlli assicurano quindi che si tenga conto della necessaria stabilità del sistema bancario. Si può quindi rilevare che l’applicazione della legge bancaria ha sancito specifici criteri di valutazione delle concentrazioni (§ 1). Inoltre, l’importanza di alcune operazioni di ristrutturazione ha comportato l’attuazione di una più rigorosa verifica del rispetto dei criteri previsti dalla legge bancaria (§ 2).

§ 1: La tradizionale specificità dei criteri di valutazione delle fusioni

603. – Credit institutions must be approved by the CECEI at the start of their existence. This can also begin following a merger by creating a new company. In this hypothesis of concentration, two entities unite and disappear to give birth to a third (A). In the logical progression of this reasoning, Article L. 511-15 of the Monetary and Financial Code allows the Committee to withdraw the approval it has granted. An authorization from the CECEI will therefore also be necessary during the existence of a credit institution when changes are made to the essential elements of its situation. Thus, for example, the realization of a concentration operation thanks to a takeover generates a change of situation (B).

A/ Conditional approval during the merger by creating a new credit institution

604. – It should be noted that the first and second European banking coordination directives, respectively of 12/12/1977 and 15/12/1989, defined a number of harmonized minimum conditions for the authorization of credit institutions , without prejudice to the existence of other national conditions. Only the application of an economic need test has been prohibited by paragraph 3 of article 3 of the first directive, with a view to promoting free competition and concentration in the single market.

605. – The law of 24/01/1984 therefore does not contain any provision referring to the economic needs of the market. This has provided for a specific procedure for granting approvals. It has therefore appointed the Credit Institutions Committee to rule on applications for approval submitted by credit institutions. It is therefore seized of cases involving the creation or concentration of banks.

606. – The law on the modernization of financial activities also gave the Committee competence to issue the license authorizing the provision by a credit institution of one or more investment services.

607. – The Financial Security Law has maintained this competence but has modified the conditions for approval of the program of activity. The Commission des Opérations de Bourse and the Conseil des Marchés Financiers having been replaced by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, it is to the latter that the power to approve activity programs has been attributed. This is only involved in portfolio management.

608. – The conditions for the approval of credit institutions are set out in Articles L. 511-10 to L. 511-13 of the Monetary and Financial Code, and in Article L. 532-3 of the Monetary and Financial Code, with regard to the provision of investment services.

609. – In general, compliance with the conditions of approval is assessed on the applicant legal person. However, for the mutualist and cooperative networks, the CECEI may issue a collective approval to the regional or federal mutuals and to the local mutuals affiliated to them, when the liquidity and solvency of the local mutuals are guaranteed by this affiliation. In this case, compliance with the regulations is assessed collectively. These provisions take into account the real economic unity of entities which, while being legally distinct, have a solidarity between them which would make it inappropriate to assess compliance with the regulations on an individual basis. The counterpart of this collective appreciation is the existence of legal guarantees of this solidarity.

610. – There are therefore specific conditions for obtaining approval. These are monetary (1) and personal (2).

1/ Financial conditions

611. – The first and second European banking coordination directives set European harmonization standards in terms of minimum capital for the authorization of credit institutions. The definition of the capital of credit institutions, which includes that of the “initial capital” provided for as a condition of approval, was further clarified by the directive of 17/04/1989. Under French law, Article L. 511-11 of the Monetary and Financial Code stipulates that credit institutions must have paid-up capital or an allocation paid in an amount at least equal to a sum set by the Committee banking regulations. Thus, a specific regulation is applicable to the capital of credit institutions. In his article 2, the Regulation of the Banking Regulation Committee No. 92-14 of 23/12/1992 specified that, for the application of these provisions: “are considered as capital, in addition to the share capital of institutions (…), the sums which take their place or which are assimilated thereto, in accordance with the legislation in force, in the accounts of establishments governed by a special statute (…)”. Added to these elements are “the reserves whose distribution is prohibited and the resources that can be assimilated to them”. This amount of minimum capital must be represented throughout the activity of the institution, that is to say that the effective surplus of its assets over liabilities must be at least equal to the amount provided for the minimum capital. . in addition to the social capital of the establishments (…), the sums which take the place of it or which are assimilated thereto, in accordance with the legislation in force, in the accounts of the establishments governed by a particular statute (…)”. Added to these elements are “the reserves whose distribution is prohibited and the resources that can be assimilated to them”. This amount of minimum capital must be represented throughout the activity of the institution, that is to say that the effective surplus of its assets over liabilities must be at least equal to the amount provided for the minimum capital. . in addition to the social capital of the establishments (…), the sums which take the place of it or which are assimilated thereto, in accordance with the legislation in force, in the accounts of the establishments governed by a particular statute (…)”. Added to these elements are “the reserves whose distribution is prohibited and the resources that can be assimilated to them”. This amount of minimum capital must be represented throughout the activity of the institution, that is to say that the effective surplus of its assets over liabilities must be at least equal to the amount provided for the minimum capital. . Added to these elements are “the reserves whose distribution is prohibited and the resources that can be assimilated to them”. This amount of minimum capital must be represented throughout the activity of the institution, that is to say that the effective surplus of its assets over liabilities must be at least equal to the amount provided for the minimum capital. . Added to these elements are “the reserves whose distribution is prohibited and the resources that can be assimilated to them”. This amount of minimum capital must be represented throughout the activity of the institution, that is to say that the effective surplus of its assets over liabilities must be at least equal to the amount provided for the minimum capital. .

612. – Moreover, paragraph 4 of Article 3 of the first banking coordination directive indicates that: “Member States provide (…) that the application for authorization must be accompanied by a program of activities (… )”. Correlatively, Article L. 511-10 of the Monetary and Financial Code states that to rule on an application for approval, the Committee takes into account the applicant’s program of activities as well as the technical and financial resources it provides. to implement. The latter also assesses the ability of the applicant company to achieve its development objectives under conditions compatible with the proper functioning of the banking system and which provide customers with satisfactory security.

613. – Lastly, the law on new economic regulations empowered the CECEI to attach specific conditions to the authorization issued, aimed at preserving the balance of the institution’s financial structure and the proper functioning of the banking system. It may also make the granting of approval subject to compliance with commitments entered into by the requesting institution. Such was already the practice of the authority, but it lacked a legal basis. Its foundation is henceforth certain since it rests on the law. Thus, the system of conditional approval is enshrined, a condition based in particular on the permanence of compliance with the initial requirements for granting as well as the commitments of the companies. The legislator has therefore introduced more subjective criteria alongside the objective criteria.

614. – Consequently, the nature of the checks in this area reveals the Committee’s wide discretion in examining applications for approval. The same applies to the verification of the conditions relating to persons.

2/ Conditions relating to people

615. – These conditions relate to the form of the legal person (a) as well as to the persons exercising a strategic role (b).

a/ Conditions relating to the form of the legal entity

616. – The existence of a legal person, abstract but in essence capable of acting, has proved necessary for the banking activity, which incurs high risks for the property of others. Thus, under article L. 511-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code, the usual practice of banking operations is reserved for legal entities, and therefore prohibited for sole proprietorships. French law is thus aligned with the first banking coordination directive of 12/12/1977. In practice, the vast majority of banks were already operating as companies. In the absence of further details, it is reasonable to assume that all forms of legal personality are now authorized.

617. – The exclusion aimed at limited liability companies has therefore disappeared. However, in practice, the CECEI, which is responsible for verifying the adequacy of the legal form of the company to the activity of the credit institution, has not approved any limited liability company as a bank.

618. – As for non-trading companies having the status of credit institution, these raise legal difficulties. This is particularly the case with the Crédit Agricole funds. Indeed, a civil society whose purpose is commercial incurs requalification as a de facto company. However, the latter is subject to the regime of the joint venture, which falls under the rules of the SNC when its object is commercial. It is therefore normally necessary to refrain from resorting to a civil company to carry out banking operations on a regular basis. The case of the Caisses de Crédit Agricole is special because their civil nature, enshrined by the Court of Cassation, accepted by the banking authorities and desired by the legislator, appears to be imposed by positive law.

619. – Concerning the adoption by a credit institution of the form of a simplified joint-stock company, the CECEI did not oppose it. However, it felt that given the great flexibility that characterizes this legal form, special precautions should be taken to make possible the assessment that the banking law requires it to make. Thus, the latter would like the organization and statutory operation of establishments constituted in this form to be designed in such a way that compliance with the regulations can always be ensured and, in particular, the possibility of carrying out the prior checks which it are incumbent. The Committee therefore carefully examines the statutes submitted to it and makes any subsequent change to them subject to its prior agreement.

b/ Conditions relating to persons exercising a strategic role

620. – The first banking coordination directive of 12/12/1977 provides that: “the presence of at least two people to effectively determine the orientation of the activity of the credit institution is necessary for the approval of ‘a credit institution’. Thus, article L. 511-13 of the Monetary and Financial Code states that “the effective determination of the orientation of the activity of credit institutions must be ensured by at least two people”.

621. – This principle is justified on the one hand by prudence. No leader should have a “reserved area”. On the other hand, business continuity presupposes that the temporary absence or impediment of a manager is not such as to “endanger the necessary continuity of management of a credit institution, by preventing the decisions required by the circumstances are taken or by depriving the banking authorities of a responsible interlocutor able to respond to any request for information”.

622. – For the banking authorities, the two persons at least ensuring the effective determination of the orientation of the activity of a credit institution constitute the responsible managers. Prior to the adoption of the law relating to new economic regulations of 05/15/2001, the CECEI considered that these persons could be the managers of a general partnership, the president and the general manager of a Banque Populaire or a Crédit Mutuel bank, the chairman and director of a Crédit Agricole bank or a Crédit Municipal bank, the members of the management board of a Caisse d’Epargne. They may also be two members of the management board of a public limited company with a supervisory board. Finally, it can be the chairman and the managing director in the case of a public limited company with a board of directors. A problem arises in the latter case. Indeed, the law relating to the new economic regulations and its decree of application have modified the functioning of the governing bodies of public limited companies by offering the possibility of distinguishing the chairmanship of the board of directors from the general management. The CECEI, which decides on the appointment of new responsible managers, has studied the combination of these innovative provisions of company law with the specificities of banking and financial legislation. The managing director, now vested with effective management, is necessarily one of these two natural persons. However, it cannot determine, alone or with the Deputy Chief Executive Officers, the orientations of the activity, an area of ​​a strategic nature which clearly falls within the competence of the Board of Directors. The other person, within the meaning of the banking law, cannot be the college constituted by the board of directors. The chairman of this council seems best able to personify him and speak in his name, appearing in this capacity as another responsible leader. Following an analysis of the de jure and de facto powers retained by the chairman of the board of directors of a public limited company, as well as taking into account the specificities of banking law with regard to the control of managers, the Committee therefore chose not to question its doctrine. It has chosen a clear solution, meeting its duty of vigilance,

623. – The banking authority is therefore showing flexibility. Indeed, one of the objectives pursued by the legislator in the designation of a two-headed management is precisely to ensure the continuity of the operation of the establishment in the event of impediment of one of the two leaders. However, the chairman of the board of directors who has not been entrusted with the function of general manager will not be able to replace the latter in the daily determination of the activity and the performance of acts committing the establishment vis-à-vis – vis-à-vis third parties. Consequently, it seems to us that the appointment of one or more deputy general managers should be considered in structures with a board of directors.

624. – Correlatively, Article L. 511-10, paragraph 6 of the Monetary and Financial Code, states that: “the Committee may (…) refuse approval if the persons referred to in Article L. 511-13 do not do not have the repute and experience appropriate to their position. Originally, these two conditions did not entail the obligation to fulfill a professional criterion. Since the entry into force of the law relating to the new economic regulations, these people must also be equipped with the necessary skills. The requirement of these criteria of good repute, experience and competence is perfectly illustrated by the questionnaire that any candidate for the position of accountable manager must send to the General Secretariat of the CECEI. With regard to the experience of future leaders,

625. – Lastly, Article L. 511-10, paragraph 2, of the Monetary and Financial Code indicates that the Committee “takes into account (…) the quality of the contributors of capital and, where applicable, of their guarantors”.

626. – This provision should be compared to that contained in Article L. 511-42 of the Monetary and Financial Code. It specifies that when “the situation of a credit institution justifies it, the Governor of the Banque de France, Chairman of the Banking Commission, invites (…) the shareholders or members of this institution to provide it with the support which he needs”. This article aims to prevent the risks of “illiquidity” and to remedy the insolvency of credit institutions. In our opinion, this provision is exorbitant from the common law of the limited liability of shareholders, which nevertheless constitutes a fundamental principle of company law.

627. – The Committee is therefore, in certain cases, led to make its decision subject to explicit commitments of support. For the past fifteen years, all authorization or takeover files have included letters from shareholders referring to the aforementioned article. When reviewing approvals and takeovers, the Committee clarified the nature of the commitments requested from capital contributors. Any shareholder required to hold at least 10% of the capital or voting rights of an establishment must declare, in the form of a so-called “capital contributors” letter, that they have read Article L. 511-42 of the Code monetary and financial.

628. – De tels engagements écrits sont notamment demandés aux investisseurs du secteur non bancaire. Ainsi, lorsque les actionnaires majoritaires ne sont pas des établissements financiers ou des entreprises de renom, le comité a souhaité que des partenaires ayant une expérience et des caractéristiques de solvabilité reconnues soient présents au capital, pour participer à l’orientation et au suivi de la gestion des établissements. Cette association, dite de parrainage, permet également de s’assurer que le soutien nécessaire à l’établissement lui sera apporté si nécessaire.

629. – Il convient de noter que lorsque les établissements de crédit français ont vu leur contrôle repris par un actionnaire étranger, des engagements adéquats ont été obtenus de la part du nouveau détenteur du contrôle.

630. – Il est clair que les engagements spécifiques demandés par le Comité se réfèrent au particularisme du système bancaire. En effet, la pérennité d’un établissement de crédit, en cas de survenance de difficultés, dépend de la qualité de ses actionnaires pour lui fournir les ressources en fonds propres nécessaires au respect de la loi bancaire. Aussi, cette condition relative aux apporteurs de capitaux est beaucoup plus sélective qu’il n’y paraît, car elle pourrait poser problème lors de fusions. Cependant, cette exigence est louable car les autorités ne veulent pas qu’une concentration mette en danger le système bancaire.

631. – Afin d’accroître la sécurité juridique de ces lettres, le Comité porte une attention particulière aux conditions d’engagement de la personne morale signataire et exige, à cet égard, le respect d’un certain formalisme. Par exemple, pour les sociétés anonymes, l’engagement doit être autorisé, selon leur forme, par le conseil d’administration ou par le conseil de surveillance. Cet acte est demandé au signataire en sa seule qualité d’associé. Le Comité considère que la procédure décrite ci-dessus doit être respectée par tous les signataires, y compris les établissements de crédit.

632. – L’opportunité de renforcer la valeur juridique des engagements des actionnaires a été examinée dans le cadre des travaux de la commission des finances de l’Assemblée nationale. Le rapport a cependant abandonné cette idée. Ces derniers ont souligné que cela risquait de rendre très difficile pour les établissements de crédit la recherche d’un actionnariat stable, alors que le système actuel n’a échoué que dans des cas très limités, notamment lorsque la structure de contrôle n’était pas clairement organisée.

633. – Le comité s’est ainsi déclaré très réservé à l’égard des structures à capital dilué ou équiréparti. En effet, l’expérience a montré qu’en cas de désaccord entre les partenaires, des situations de blocage pouvaient survenir. La répartition du capital doit donc présenter une stabilité suffisante en cas de contrôle effectif d’un établissement de crédit par plusieurs apporteurs de capital. En pratique, le CECEI subordonne son agrément à la conclusion d’un accord entre actionnaires garantissant leur cohésion. Cela permet de s’assurer que l’actionnariat a une cohérence suffisante. La nécessité d’éviter les structures opaques où le contrôle n’est pas clairement identifié a également été soulignée.

634. – En conséquence, la procédure d’agrément vise, dans tous les cas, à identifier des actionnaires de référence stables et à les faire souscrire à des engagements. Logiquement, lorsque le CECEI a donné son agrément, il doit autoriser la reprise d’un établissement de crédit afin de s’assurer qu’une telle opération ne remette pas en cause les conditions qui ont permis de délivrer l’agrément.

B/ Réitération du contrôle lorsque la situation des établissements agréés évolue

635. – The Banking and Financial Regulation Committee has set the rules concerning changes in the situation of credit institutions and investment firms. Thus, Regulation No. 96-16 of 20/12/1996 subjects certain modifications to the conditions to which approval was made subject to prior authorisation. This system is linked to the necessary protection of the banking system. This procedure is imposed for any significant change in the composition of capital contributors in order to ensure the financial soundness of the company. Are therefore subject to the prior authorization of the Committee, any operation of acquisition, extension or sale of direct or indirect participation resulting in the acquisition or loss of the effective power of control as well as those of the third party,

636. – For the determination of the thresholds whose crossing requires authorization, as well as for the assessment of the effective control exercised over an establishment, are assimilated to the voting rights held by a person the voting rights possessed on his behalf by another person, the rights possessed by companies placed under the effective control of that person, the voting rights possessed by a third party with whom that person acts and the voting rights which may be acquired at the sole initiative of that person under a deal. Moreover, Article 4 of Regulation No. 96-16 specifies that persons who have entered into an agreement to acquire or transfer voting rights or to exercise rights to implement a common policy towards the establishment. A broad conception of the holding of voting rights and the agreements that will trigger control is thus adopted. It seems that this results from a will of the authorities to detect all the situations of control, of concentration of the credit establishments. The legal reality is therefore privileged over the formal relations of belonging. It seems that this results from a will of the authorities to detect all the situations of control, of concentration of the credit establishments. The legal reality is therefore privileged over the formal relations of belonging. It seems that this results from a will of the authorities to detect all the situations of control, of concentration of the credit establishments. The legal reality is therefore privileged over the formal relations of belonging.

637. – Again, with a view to realism, Regulation No. 96-16 takes note of the dissociation that may exist in certain establishments between shares and shares, on the one hand, and the voting rights attached to them, on the other hand. Consequently, it specifies that, in certain cases, compliance with the percentages of the prior authorization thresholds must be assessed in shares or shares and not in voting rights. This is the case “when, under legislative or statutory provisions, the number or distribution of voting rights is limited in relation to the number or distribution of shares or shares to which they are attached”. This is aimed in particular at public limited companies for mortgage loans and cooperative societies.

638. – As we have already specified, the notion of effective control, used on several occasions by banking regulations, is not defined in relation to Article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code. In addition, Article L. 611-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code has clearly established that this system of prior authorization for the acquisition, extension or sale of holdings in credit institutions applies to transactions carried out indirectly within the meaning of French law. companies, which had previously been disputed in doctrine. Also covered are holdings in the capital of financial institutions that hold effective control over one or more credit institutions.

639. – It should be noted that an essential problem arises if holding companies are interposed between the shareholders and the credit institution in the event of transfer of control of the holding company. Formally, the legal entity still exists and controls the bank. However, substantially, since the shareholders of the holding company are no longer the same, the orientations of the bank can be modified. Its stability may be affected. The difficulty has been solved in practice because the CECEI asks these shareholders to undertake not to cede control of these holding companies without having obtained its authorisation.

640. – The CECEI therefore ensures that such an operation does not call into question the conditions which made it possible to issue approval to the establishment concerned. It follows from the provisions of the law of 24/01/1984 that the ability of the company to ensure its development without jeopardizing the proper functioning of the banking system or the security of the customers, is one of the conditions which must be respected. be checked.

641. – Furthermore, the law on new economic regulations provides that “in cases where an authorization must be issued, it may itself be accompanied by specific conditions meeting the purposes mentioned in the sixth paragraph of Article L 511-10 or subject to compliance with commitments made by the institution”.

642. – We have therefore just demonstrated that the CECEI monitors bank restructuring in order to ensure the stability of the banking system. It seems that the importance of several operations notified in recent years has led it to check more closely that applicants comply with the criteria of Article L. 511-10 of the Monetary and Financial Code.

§ 2: The increased specificity of the assessment criteria in the context of large-scale restructuring

643. – The enrichment of the control of large-scale concentration operations aims to strengthen the protection of the banking system (A). To achieve this objective, the regulatory authority has drawn up a rigorous analysis grid (B).

A/ The objective of enhanced protection of the banking system

644. – During large-scale banking restructuring operations, the Committee is led to examine, given the implications of these operations, a particularly wide range of areas. Indeed, any merger between large banking and financial groups entails considerable reorganization to allow the constitution of a coherent whole.

645. – To ensure the admissibility of the project with regard to the criteria it is responsible for assessing, the Committee may ask the initiator of the offer to make specific commitments concerning the organization and management of the project. new set.

646. – Furthermore, with regard to takeover projects that have not received the consent of the target’s corporate bodies, the Committee considered that the presentation of a clear and concerted solution is particularly desirable in order to give the projects their best chance of success. This is to prevent any difficulties, during or after the completion of the operation, from having adverse repercussions on the banking system, given the size of the new group. When the Committee found that the stock market threshold set out in a public offer had not been reached and that an agreement between the parties concerned had not been reached, it endeavored to verify the existence of a manifest power of control over the new group.

647. – In ogni caso, il Comitato intende verificare che i mezzi tecnici, organizzativi e finanziari dei nuovi complessi siano adeguatamente adeguati. Assicura inoltre che lo sviluppo di nuovi assiemi sia stato correttamente pianificato e che non vi siano rischi prevedibili per i suoi clienti. Nella misura in cui questo tipo di operazione può avere ripercussioni sull’intero sistema bancario, il Comitato desidera vigilare affinché i progetti previsti non rischino di pregiudicare il corretto funzionamento di quest’ultimo. Si è così portati a stabilire gradualmente una griglia di analisi data agli attori di queste ristrutturazioni su larga scala.

B/ L’istituzione di una rigorosa griglia di analisi

648. – Questa rigorosa griglia di analisi è caratterizzata dall’istituzione di raffinate simulazioni (1), dall’instaurazione di un accresciuto controllo dei rischi (2) nonché dall’approfondimento del controllo dell’armonizzazione delle strutture (3).

1/ L’istituzione di simulazioni raffinate

649. – Lo sviluppo delle simulazioni raffinate è svolto dagli enti concentrati (a) oltre che dall’autorità di regolamentazione (b).

a/ Sviluppo di simulazioni da parte delle entità concentrate

650. – Al fine di evidenziare le complementarità e le sovrapposizioni tra le imprese, deve essere fornita una descrizione e un costo delle attività svolte, quali banca al dettaglio, finanza internazionale, specializzata, banca d’affari, holdings e venture capital nonché gestione patrimoniale .

651. – Deve essere presentata una previsione dei risultati su tre anni, sia a livello globale che per attività. In particolare deve indicare il margine di intermediazione, le spese generali, gli accantonamenti e il risultato corrente. Le simulazioni devono essere effettuate secondo ipotesi di allocazione del capitale. Ciò dovrebbe consentire di evidenziare il tasso di rendimento delle varie operazioni.

652. – Devono essere redatti bilanci previsionali pro-forma per grandi masse nonché una descrizione dei principi generali di gestione del bilancio. I bilanci previsionali devono evidenziare i fabbisogni di rifinanziamento e le diverse categorie di risorse previste, in particolare quelle di natura interbancaria e quelle provenienti dai mercati, distinguendo di volta in volta tra fabbisogni a meno di un anno e quelli a più di un anno.

653. – Allo stesso modo devono essere presentate le previsioni dei coefficienti di solvibilità su base consolidata, sia in termini di fondi propri di base che di fondi propri complessivi. Inoltre, per i gruppi di dimensione internazionale, è richiesto che i rapporti siano sufficienti rispetto a quelli esistenti con i principali concorrenti.

654. – Deve essere comunicata la misura della trasformazione. Deve includere simulazioni del coefficiente di capitale e risorse permanenti. Analogamente, devono essere fornite le previsioni di liquidità su un orizzonte triennale, accompagnate dal calcolo degli indici di liquidità. Questa voce deve contenere l’indicazione delle aperture delle linee di sicurezza.

655. – Le niveau des frais généraux et leur évolution constituent des indicateurs majeurs de l’appréciation des établissements, car ils sont sans doute l’un des leviers stratégiques les moins aléatoires. Dans ces conditions, les objectifs à court et moyen terme que se fixent dans ce domaine les responsables emportent une importance particulière. Les dossiers présentés doivent ensuite comprendre une évaluation des économies résultant des synergies comme des coûts éventuels de restructuration, notamment des provisions nécessaires. Cette évolution doit bien entendu être accompagnée par une rédaction précise des hypothèses utilisées. Les évolutions des coefficients d’exploitation doivent être calculées.

656. – Il est également demandé une évaluation de l’exposition du futur ensemble au risque de crédit. Les simulations doivent traduire la sensibilité au risque de taux et la dégradation de la qualité des signatures, en particulier, au regard d’un choc macro-économique. Il doit être indiqué si les calculs sont opérés à partir de modèles internes et, dans l’affirmative, les expliciter.

657. – Enfin, le dossier doit indiquer les partenariats existants de chacun des groupes concentrés et exposer la stratégie prévue dans ce domaine. Il faut également évaluer les grands principes qui sous-tendront la mise en cohérence dans le nouvel ensemble des partenariats actuels. Un recensement des incompatibilités et des exclusivités éventuelles doit être communiqué.

b/ L’élaboration de simulations effectuée par l’autorité de régulation

658. – La dimension atteinte par certains regroupements bancaires implique que le Comité s’assure de la compatibilité des objectifs du nouvel ensemble avec le bon fonctionnement du système bancaire. Ainsi, ce dernier est conduit à élaborer des simulations mettant en scène l’établissement de crédit concentré.

659. – En outre, depuis l’adoption de la loi de sécurité financière, les concentrations bancaires sont soumises au droit commun de la concurrence. Néanmoins, lorsque le Conseil de la concurrence est saisi, le Comité est également consulté. Celui-ci doit alors nécessairement effectuer une première simulation pour pouvoir rendre son avis sur les aspects prudentiels de l’opération.

660. – Par ailleurs, le Comité effectue un contrôle accru des risques.

2/ L’instauration d’un contrôle accru des risques

661. – Un rapprochement de deux ou plusieurs groupes bancaires et financiers peut, le cas échéant, entraîner une concentration excessive des risques tant de bénéficiaires individuels que sectoriels.

662. – Il est donc demandé, pour le nouveau groupe ou à défaut pour chacune des entités avant regroupement, la liste nominative des vingt premiers risques sur la clientèle nets de contre garanties et le pourcentage des fonds propres qu’ils représentent. Les principales contreparties interbancaires doivent également être recensées à l’actif et au passif et ne doivent pas appeler défavorablement l’attention en termes de division des risques. Dans les mêmes conditions, l’état des risques pays doit être donné, précisant les montants par pays, par zone sensible ainsi que les taux de provisionnement. De manière générale, la présentation des risques doit être complétée par des recensements sectoriels et géographiques, de façon à permettre aux autorités d’apprécier convenablement leur nature et leur dimension.

663. – Le Comité demande aux responsables de l’opération d’indiquer les montants des fonds propres alloués aux opérations de marché et de justifier l’adéquation de ces ressources à la nature et au volume des positions supportées sur les différents marchés.

664. – Il convient de préciser la (ou les) méthodologie(s) retenue(s) de consommation des fonds propres, notamment le choix entre les règles « standard » ou le recours à des modèles internes selon la méthode de la valeur en risque. En outre, il est demandé de compléter cette seconde approche par un scénario de stress. Les caractéristiques de cette méthode des valeurs extrêmes, qui sont à détailler, doivent notamment correspondre aux recommandations des autorités de surveillance et permettre ainsi la comparabilité des résultats entre les différents établissements.

665. – L’enveloppe de risque de perte maximale ainsi que par métier doit être communiquée. Il doit être indiqué si ces limites ont été fixées en accord ou non avec les organes sociaux des groupes.

666. – L’initiateur du projet doit indiquer s’il transposera son système de contrôle aux entités dont il prendrait le contrôle et fournir le plan d’action visant à permettre l’adaptation du dispositif, incluant le recensement des difficultés éventuelles à surmonter. Les renseignements doivent comprendre la description des principes fondamentaux qui sous-tendent l’organisation en vigueur dans ce domaine au sein du groupe de l’initiateur, tels qu’ils peuvent être concrétisés dans une charte du contrôle interne. Ces principes concernent notamment l’identification du centre responsable de l’organisation du contrôle interne des entités, la délégation dont bénéficient les responsables de tous niveaux, la séparation des fonctions garantissant un contrôle exercé de manière indépendante et l’existence d’un référentiel d’instruction. En outre, l’organisation et les différents niveaux de contrôle, concourant à la maîtrise des différents risques, doivent être précisés. Ceux-ci peuvent par exemple se décliner en contrôle opérationnel au premier niveau, contrôle hiérarchique au second, tutelle fonctionnelle du groupe au troisième, contrôle indépendant au quatrième. Enfin, des informations doivent être fournies concernant le dispositif spécifique de supervision des filiales, s’il existe.

3/ L’approfondissement du contrôle de l’harmonisation des structures

667. – Le dossier transmis au Comité doit décrire le processus d’harmonisation des structures de chacun des groupes concernés, en indiquant notamment quelle sera la structure qui pilotera ce rapprochement. Il doit être joint une description précise des missions confiées à cette structure et du programme de mise en œuvre, ainsi que des moyens en personnel qui y seront affectés.

668. – L’information nécessaire du Comité ne se limite pas à l’indication de l’identité des dirigeants responsables de chacune des principales entités du nouvel ensemble. Elle doit englober des informations sur la composition, l’origine et les critères de sélection des personnes appelées à faire partie des instances décisionnelles du futur groupe, qu’il s’agisse des organes sociaux comme des comités exécutifs ou stratégiques. De manière générale, cette information s’étend aux responsables des lignes de métier ou aux principaux responsables hiérarchiques. Il doit être précisé si la future organisation entraînera des modifications de pouvoirs des principales instances du groupe et de ses membres. Toutes les modifications statutaires envisagées doivent être précisément exposées. Il est rappelé que les éventuels changements de statut juridique des établissements doivent être également soumis à l’autorisation préalable du Comité.

669. – Les répercussions du projet sur l’emploi des personnels doivent être fournies en indiquant les entités, les métiers et les zones géographiques concernés. Dans l’hypothèse d’une réduction des effectifs sans licenciement, il faut préciser si celle-ci sera réalisée dans le cadre d’une diminution naturelle et/ou par des mesures incitatives de départ, et fournir un descriptif des dispositifs. De même, en cas de recours à la mobilité pour l’adaptation des effectifs, il faut mentionner leur étendue et les règles qui régiront les mouvements. Si des mesures de licenciement sont envisagées, il convient d’indiquer si un plan de sauvegarde de l’emploi est en cours d’élaboration, quelles en sont alors ses caractéristiques et s’il a déjà fait l’objet d’une présentation ou d’une négociation avec les représentants des personnels. D’une manière générale, le calendrier des rencontres avec les instances représentatives des salariés est à communiquer.

670. – Par conséquent, il vient d’être démontré que des contrôles spécifiques aux concentrations bancaires sont effectués. Ces derniers doivent se coordonner avec les autres branches de droit.

Chapitre 2 : La coordination des contrôles et des branches de droit

671. – Tous les établissements de crédit ont un besoin de fonds très important, car ils doivent accompagner leur clientèle à l’échelle internationale. En outre, ils doivent respecter le ratio Cooke. Ainsi, ils sont de plus en plus fréquemment cotés en bourse. En effet, le marché des valeurs mobilières remplit une fonction primordiale que va utiliser le secteur bancaire. C’est un marché primaire, qui permet aux sociétés de lever des capitaux en vue d’assurer leur financement. Cette fonction atteste l’importance d’un bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers pour l’économie nationale et justifie pleinement les contrôles des autorités financières et boursières sur les sociétés dont les titres sont cotés.

672. – Ces autorités ont voulu garantir un bon fonctionnement du système financier. Elles ont donc fait respecter le principe d’égalité, de loyauté des transactions et de transparence du marché. Cette protection part du postulat suivant : tous les actionnaires doivent bénéficier des mêmes conditions de prix. C’est le dogme de l’unité de marché.

673. – Les banques étant majoritairement cotées en bourse, les prises de contrôle de ces dernières se réalisent sur le marché boursier. Ceci engendre la juxtaposition du contrôle des autorités financières et boursières (section 1). Cette juxtaposition met en évidence la rencontre de deux logiques de régulation (section 2). La situation actuelle appelle une réforme des contrôles qui vise notamment à assurer une meilleure coordination des contrôles (section 3).

Section 1 : La juxtaposition des contrôles financiers et boursiers

674. – Les banques cotées en bourse ont fait l’objet de prises de contrôle, ce qui a engendré l’application du droit boursier au côté du droit bancaire.

675. – Logically, the question of the intervention of the stock market authorities arose. Indeed, some authors had asserted in a very questionable way that banks were not subject to market mechanisms. In reality, if the French banking system appeared selective due to the rigorous controls carried out by the banking authorities, it also proved to be partially open since the market mechanisms were applied. Thus, the stock market authorities intervened in the context of public offers. However, the dual intervention of these institutions constituted a source of difficulty. In reality, from the outset, the separation between the Financial Markets Council and the Stock Exchange Commission was never conceivable. Therefore,

§ 1: Coordination of regulatory authorities in the initial regime

676. – The missions of the Financial Markets Council and the Stock Exchange Commission were not the same. However, the boundary between the competence of the two authorities was uncertain. Thus, the latter were forced to coordinate to maintain the coherence of their action. From then on, the bonds of cooperation that developed between them revealed these entanglements of competence while remedying them.

677. – Nevertheless, controls were torn between two regulatory authorities. This is the reason why we successively present the missions which were devolved to the Financial Markets Council (A) and those which were reserved for the Stock Exchange Commission (B) by exposing the aspects of coordination.

A/ The missions of the Financial Markets Council

678. – The Financial Markets Council was a professional and ethical authority endowed with legal personality. It was responsible for monitoring the proper functioning of the markets and therefore constituted a regulatory authority. This had two main functions. It drew up and applied financial rules (1) and controlled public offers (2).

1/ The competence of the Financial Markets Council in the development and application of financial rules

679. – The financial services authorities brought together the powers of regulation, approval and control, limited to a specific field of activity. Thus, the Financial Markets Council was responsible for all investment services, and their concentration, with the exception of portfolio management on behalf of third parties.

680. – In regulatory matters, the Financial Markets Council had to give its opinion on the regulations submitted to the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee relating to investment services providers and its chairman participated in these cases in the deliberations of the banking authority. . The Financial Markets Council also established General Regulations which covered a wide variety of matters, a significant part of which concerned the organization of the financial markets. It therefore had jurisdiction to regulate public offers.

681. – En outre, celui-ci jouait un rôle déterminant pour la mise en œuvre des dispositions législatives et réglementaires. Dans la procédure d’agrément des prestataires de services d’investissement, il était chargé d’approuver le programme d’activité en appréciant notamment sa qualité au regard de la compétence et de l’honorabilité des dirigeants. Ainsi, en 2000, Comdirect Bank AG avait pris une participation dans le capital de Paresco Bourse. L’opérateur avait obtenu l’approbation de son programme d’activité par le Conseil des marchés financiers sous la dénomination sociale Comdirect. Le Conseil des marchés financiers devait donc approuver le programme d’activité. Cependant, il ne disposait pas du pouvoir d’agrément des entreprises d’investissement. Cette approbation devait être donnée pour chacun des services d’investissement que l’entreprise entendait fournir. Le Conseil des marchés financiers était également compétent pour veiller au respect des règles de bonne conduite par les prestataires de services d’investissement. Il pouvait sanctionner les manquements aux obligations professionnelles définies par les lois et règlements en vigueur.

682. – Enfin, en matière disciplinaire, il était expressément prévu que le Conseil des marchés financiers pouvait agir soit d’office, soit à la demande du commissaire du Gouvernement, du Président de la Commission des opérations de bourse, de celui de la Commission bancaire, ou encore sur demande d’une entreprise de marché ou d’une chambre de compensation. Toutes ces dispositions démontraient la volonté manifeste du législateur d’une action concertée du Conseil des marchés financiers, notamment pour ce qui concernait sa mission de contrôle.

2/ Le contrôle des offres publiques par le Conseil des marchés financiers

683. – Le contrôle des offres publiques est primordial parce que le marché ne peut s’autoréguler comme cela a déjà été démontré antérieurement. Ainsi, le Conseil des marchés financiers disposait de larges pouvoirs en matière d’offres publiques (a). Ses décisions faisaient donc fréquemment l’objet de contentieux (b).

a/ Les pouvoirs du Conseil des marchés financiers en matière d’offres publiques

684. – The Financial Markets Council was omnipresent throughout the course of the public offerings, like the Financial Markets Authority. This could be seen in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas and Crédit Agricole/Crédit Lyonnais cases. It recorded the filing of the various offers. He ruled in particular on the admissibility of the offer as well as that of the competing offer. It could also set a time limit for filing successive higher bids and publish the result of the public offer.

685. – Lorsqu’il existait plusieurs offres publiques concomitantes, le Conseil des marchés financiers alignait les dates de clôtures des offres. Concernant l’opération BNP/ Société Générale/ Paribas, la clôture des trois offres fut fixée au 06/08/1999. Cet alignement semblait être impératif. Il n’était pas sans justification. Il permettait de responsabiliser les actionnaires devant opérer un choix entre deux projets. Il présentait cependant un inconvénient comme le montrait la présente espèce. Les actionnaires qui avaient participé à l’offre de la Société Générale sur les titres Paribas, déclarées sans suite, n’avaient pas pu apporter leurs titres à l’offre de la BNP visant les mêmes titres. C’est sans doute pour cette raison que la pratique du Conseil des marchés financiers n’était pas systématique.

686. – Le risque majeur des offres publiques concurrentes, pour le Conseil des marchés financiers, résidait dans le fait qu’elles avaient pour conséquence de repousser la date de clôture de l’offre. Effectivement, l’article 5-2-4 du Règlement général du Conseil des marchés financiers disposait que « à dater de l’ouverture de l’offre et cinq jours au plus tard avant sa date de clôture, un projet d’offre publique concurrente peut être déposé auprès du Conseil ». Dès lors que la durée d’offre était comprise entre 25 jours et 35 jours de bourse, le suspens pouvait être long. Ainsi, l’enlisement de la procédure d’offre publique fut critiqué dans l’affaire BNP/ Société Générale/ Paribas. Le Conseil des marchés financiers n’était toutefois pas impuissant face à ce risque de prolongation au-delà des limites du raisonnable. L’article 5-2-10 du Règlement général lui permettait après dix semaines de fixer des délais plus courts pour le dépôt des surenchères successives. L’objectif était de maîtriser le calendrier des offres publiques.

687. – La loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques était néanmoins intervenue dans l’objectif de résoudre toutes les difficultés apparues lors de l’offre publique d’échange de la BNP sur la Société Générale et Paribas. Le Conseil des marchés financiers s’était ainsi vu accorder le pouvoir de fixer une date de clôture définitive de toutes les offres portant sur les titres de la société, dès lors que plus de trois mois s’étaient écoulés depuis le dépôt d’un projet d’offre publique.

688. – Néanmoins, des difficultés s’étaient posées postérieurement à l’intervention du législateur. Dans l’affaire Crédit Agricole/ Crédit Lyonnais, entre le jour du dépôt de l’offre et sa date de clôture, cinq mois s’étaient écoulés. En effet, deux recours pour excès de pouvoir, devant le Conseil d’Etat, du Syndicat Force Ouvrière Banque et de la fédération section financière de la CGT avaient engendré une prolongation de l’offre. L’objectif du Conseil des marchés financiers avait été d’attendre la décision du Conseil d’Etat avant de clôturer l’offre, afin que toutes les incertitudes soient levées pour les investisseurs.

689. – Le Conseil des marchés financiers ne disposait, ni d’un pouvoir de contrainte, ni d’un pouvoir d’injonction similaire à celui de la Commission des opérations de bourse. Si un opérateur refusait de déposer un projet d’offre publique alors qu’il en avait l’obligation, le Conseil des marchés financiers n’avait pas le pouvoir de saisir le juge pour faire ordonner le respect de l’obligation. C’était à la Commission des opérations de bourse de le faire, ce qui obligeait ces deux autorités de régulation à se coordonner.

690. – Ainsi, la loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques harmonisa les possibilités d’intervention des autorités de régulation. Le Président du Conseil des marchés financiers disposa donc du pouvoir de demander au Président du Tribunal de grande instance de Paris qu’il soit ordonné à toute personne de se conformer aux dispositions légales et de mettre fin à une irrégularité ou d’en supprimer les effets.

691. – Les décisions issues du contrôle du Conseil des marchés financiers étaient des décisions administratives et non juridictionnelles. Elles devaient être motivées. Cependant, il n’existait pas d’obligation de respect du principe du contradictoire. Cette mise à l’écart du principe du contradictoire était justifiée parfois par le risque d’être submergé par les explications orales fournies par les parties. Elle était néanmoins contraire aux droits de la défense, même si cette critique perdait de sa force en raison du pouvoir du Conseil des marchés financiers, de demander à l’initiateur de modifier son projet. N’était-ce pas là un début de contradiction ? En plus, seules les auditions orales étaient écartées, la faculté de présenter des observations écrites étant en revanche reconnue. Enfin, le respect des droits des actionnaires minoritaires était également assuré par les principes directeurs de l’évaluation de l’indemnisation, mais aussi par le recours qui leur était ouvert devant la Cour d’appel, recours qui subsiste dans le nouveau régime.

692. – Les offres publiques, ayant occasionné fréquemment une ou plusieurs actions en justice, ont contribué à affiner les décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers.

b/ Les précisions issues du contentieux des décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers

693. – Les précisions issues du contentieux des décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers ont été fondamentales. Si actuellement le contentieux n’émane plus des décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers mais de l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers, la portée de ces précisions demeure.

694. – Les recours contre les décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers étaient, selon l’article 3 du décret du 03/10/1996, ouverts aux personnes qui faisaient l’objet de la décision ainsi qu’aux « autres personnes intéressées ». La question était toutefois de savoir ce que l’on devait entendre par cette dernière formule : visait-t-on nécessairement des porteurs de titres, et donc, en l’occurrence, des actionnaires ? Etait-il nécessaire d’être actionnaire à la date de la décision du Conseil des marchés financiers ? Cette interprétation était habituellement retenue par la jurisprudence. Pourtant dans deux arrêts de la Cour de Paris du 17/06/1999, la recevabilité des recours exercés par les banques Société Générale et Paribas avait été justifiée en se fondant sur la concurrence du projet présenté par ces établissements à celui de la BNP. Ce second pouvant faire obstacle au rapprochement résultant du premier, la Société Générale et la banque Paribas avait « un intérêt légitime, né et actuel » à contester la recevabilité des offres publiques de la BNP visant les titres de Paribas et de la Société Générale. Une telle motivation semblait interpréter largement la notion de personnes intéressées. Cependant, aucune définition n’était donnée par le décret du 03/10/1996. Il permettait donc l’interprétation retenue par la Cour de Paris. Il peut être regretté que la Cour se soit bornée à examiner l’intérêt à agir de la Société Générale et de Paribas en termes de concurrence. Ces établissements n’étaient pas seulement auteurs d’un projet concurrent ; ils étaient également les cibles de la BNP. Or, les dirigeants des sociétés cibles doivent donner un avis motivé sur l’intérêt ou le risque existant pour la société visée et ses actionnaires. La société cible a en charge la promotion de l’intérêt commun de ses actionnaires et, dès lors, il lui appartient de prendre parti sur l’opportunité de l’opération de restructuration dont elle est l’objet, de sorte que de ce point de vue, l’intérêt à agir n’est guère contestable. Il apparaît ici l’idée qu’une société peut exercer un recours contre une décision de recevabilité d’une offre publique visant une autre société dans la mesure où l’opération tend à compromettre le rapprochement de ces sociétés.

695. – Sur le fond, la Cour d’appel de Paris n’ayant pas plénitude de juridiction, se prononçait uniquement sur le bien fondé de la décision prise par le Conseil des marchés financiers, sans pouvoir évoquer l’ensemble des questions suscitées par l’offre publique. Ainsi, les arrêts du 17/06/1999 ne pouvaient dépasser le cadre des décisions du Conseil des marchés financiers. Ils rappelaient quelques principes classiques devant gouverner l’action du Conseil des marchés financiers dans son appréciation de la recevabilité des offres publiques.

696. – Les décisions que pouvaient prendre le Conseil des marchés financiers en vertu de la réglementation qu’il avait lui-même édictée devait tenir compte de l’environnement textuel dans lequel celles-ci s’inséraient. La Cour de Paris l’avait clairement indiqué, dans l’affaire Quadral. « Pour l’exécution des missions de service public qui lui étaient déléguées par la loi du 22/01/1988, le Conseil était tenu au respect de l’ensemble des règles légales qui s’y rattachaient et en particulier des règlements concernant le fonctionnement des marchés de valeurs mobilières pris par la Commission des opérations de bourse conformément aux dispositions de l’article 4-1 de l’ordonnance du 28/09/1967 ». La Cour indiquait donc que le Conseil devait tenir compte de son Règlement général, mais également de l’ensemble des règles légales qui s’y rattachaient, ce qui incluait les règles du droit civil relatives à la détermination de l’objet de l’offre.

697. – De ce point de vue, la Cour, dans l’affaire Société Générale, SA Paribas contre Conseil des marchés financiers, confirmait pour la première fois que l’offre publique d’échange est une « véritable » offre au sens civiliste du terme. Le principe est important et toujours d’actualité : le droit civil contraint donc l’autorité de marché qui pourrait rejeter une offre, dès l’instant qu’elle serait contraire au droit commun qui la régit de manière résiduelle.

698. – Mais là n’était sans doute pas la plus grande originalité de l’affaire qui résidait dans la concomitance des deux offres de la BNP, qui conférait, selon la Société Générale et Paribas, un caractère incertain à l’offre contraire au droit des obligations. Les parties invoquaient la violation des articles 1108 et 1703 du Code civil. Ils affirmaient que l’offre publique de prise de contrôle ne pouvait être déclarée recevable que si elle pouvait efficacement, c’est-à-dire valablement, atteindre son objectif. Il ne pouvait en être ainsi si l’objet de l’offre était indéterminé, de telle sorte que son acceptation ne pouvait pas conduire à la formation d’un contrat. Ainsi, la Cour précisait ce qu’il fallait entendre par objet d’une offre publique d’échange : « s’agissant d’une offre d’échange, l’objet est l’obligation réciproque liant les parties de remettre une chose réelle, déterminée ou du moins déterminable ». Or, comme le nombre et la nature des titres remis en échange étaient clairement spécifiés, elle pouvait en conclure que l’objet était déterminé. En effet, la détermination de l’objet du contrat ne concerne pas les actifs des entreprises et leur usage projeté mais les titres, du fait de l’inébranlable personnalité morale des sociétés. Dès lors que le nombre de titres offerts en échange était indiqué, l’objet était déterminé. La BNP avait, par exemple, offert d’acquérir la totalité des actions Paribas par remise de 11 actions BNP pour 8 actions Paribas. La contre partie était donc déterminée dans sa qualité et dans sa quotité. La Cour prenait aussi une position de principe sur la possibilité de lancer simultanément deux offres tout en posant une condition afin que l’objet des offres ne pût être considéré comme incertain. « Rien n’interdit à une société de présenter concomitamment deux offres publiques sous-tendues par un seul et même projet économique ou industriel, dès lors que les deux offres ne sont pas liées, le succès de l’une n’étant pas conditionné par la réussite de l’autre ». Tel était le cas en l’espèce dans la mesure où la BNP avait indiqué dans son projet que, dans l’hypothèse où il n’y aurait pas de suite positive à l’offre sur Paribas, elle entendait mettre en œuvre avec la Société Générale le plan industriel relatif aux activités respectives des deux établissements BNP et Société Générale. La Cour admettait donc, à juste titre, que deux offres puissent être concomitantes, participer à un même projet, et donc, dans une certaine mesure, être liées, sans que le lien soit juridique. Cependant, le succès de l’une des offres ne devait pas être conditionné par le succès de l’autre. Ainsi, était respecté le caractère irrévocable de chaque offre, ce qui était conforme tant à la notion d’offre en droit civil qu’aux dispositions du Règlement général du Conseil des marchés financiers.

699. – En outre, concernant la présentation par la BNP d’un projet concurrent « hostile » à celui de la Société Générale et de Paribas, n’était-elle pas déloyale en elle même ? Le principe de loyauté posé par le Règlement général du Conseil des marchés financiers n’était pas nouveau puisque la Cour de Paris, dans l’affaire OCP, l’avait déjà consacré. Mais c’était la première fois que la Cour donnait une définition de la déloyauté. « La déloyauté s’entend comme une entrave au libre jeu des offres et surenchères par le recours à des manœuvres ou moyens détournés mis en œuvre dans des conditions illicites, occultes ou frauduleuses ». Une telle motivation ne pouvait qu’être approuvée puisque le seul dépôt d’une offre concurrente ou d’une offre sur les titres de l’auteur d’une offre était dans la droite ligne du principe du libre jeu des offres et des demandes. Par conséquent, il était affirmé une distinction entre une offre inamicale et une offre déloyale.

700. – Infine, il successo del progetto BNP è dipeso dal successo delle offerte lanciate su Société Générale e Paribas. Si è quindi sostenuto che il principio di trasparenza sarebbe stato violato, non essendo gli azionisti in grado di valutare concretamente il merito di ciascuna delle offerte. Tuttavia, questa affermazione sembra sorprendente perché la trasparenza non dipende dai termini delle offerte o dal progetto sottostante, ma dalle informazioni fornite. Anche il Tribunale di Parigi, nelle sentenze del 17/06/1999, ha potuto sottolineare che “la BNP si è assunta il rischio di lanciare un’operazione i cui obiettivi, anche aleatori, sono definiti a grandi linee nel progetto di OPA depositato (…)”. Questo specifica, oltre ai suoi obiettivi e intenzioni, la natura e le caratteristiche della procedura che porta alla sua realizzazione in modo che sia assicurata la trasparenza del progetto. L’azzardo sulla realizzazione del progetto industriale, legato al fatto che l’oggetto perseguito si fonda anche sul successo dell’offerta promossa sulle azioni Paribas, emerge esso stesso chiaramente dalla dichiarazione di intenti del promotore, e contribuisce anche alla trasparenza delle informazioni. È vero, come hanno sottolineato i ricorrenti, che non si dissipa un’incertezza annunciandola. Tuttavia, la Corte ritiene che la trasparenza richieda solo che gli azionisti delle società interessate siano informati senza ambiguità in modo che possano prendere la loro decisione se offrire o meno le loro azioni con piena cognizione di causa. Così, ciò che la legge richiede è la precisione e non l’assenza di rischio, ed è correttamente informare per indicare le incertezze che costituiscono un pericolo. L’esistenza del pericolo non è quindi incompatibile con l’esattezza dell’informazione perché si tratta di due nozioni differenti. Ciò deriva da una semplice distinzione giuridica: l’incertezza è una delle qualità dell’oggetto dell’informazione, la precisione è la qualità dell’informazione data sull’oggetto. Il Consiglio ha dovuto verificare la regolarità delle offerte, ovvero la coerenza e la pertinenza delle informazioni al fine di assicurare il principio di trasparenza. Non doveva decidere sull’opportunità del progetto industriale o economico. Il rischio che ciò poteva presentare non implicava un principio di rigetto. L’esistenza del pericolo non è quindi incompatibile con l’esattezza dell’informazione perché si tratta di due nozioni differenti. Ciò deriva da una semplice distinzione giuridica: l’incertezza è una delle qualità dell’oggetto dell’informazione, la precisione è la qualità dell’informazione data sull’oggetto. Il Consiglio ha dovuto verificare la regolarità delle offerte, ovvero la coerenza e la pertinenza delle informazioni al fine di assicurare il principio di trasparenza. Non doveva decidere sull’opportunità del progetto industriale o economico. Il rischio che ciò poteva presentare non implicava un principio di rigetto. L’esistenza del pericolo non è quindi incompatibile con l’esattezza dell’informazione perché si tratta di due nozioni differenti. Ciò deriva da una semplice distinzione giuridica: l’incertezza è una delle qualità dell’oggetto dell’informazione, la precisione è la qualità dell’informazione data sull’oggetto. Il Consiglio ha dovuto verificare la regolarità delle offerte, ovvero la coerenza e la pertinenza delle informazioni al fine di assicurare il principio di trasparenza. Non doveva decidere sull’opportunità del progetto industriale o economico. Il rischio che ciò poteva presentare non implicava un principio di rigetto. la precisione è la qualità delle informazioni fornite sull’oggetto. Il Consiglio ha dovuto verificare la regolarità delle offerte, ovvero la coerenza e la pertinenza delle informazioni al fine di assicurare il principio di trasparenza. Non doveva decidere sull’opportunità del progetto industriale o economico. Il rischio che ciò poteva presentare non implicava un principio di rigetto. la precisione è la qualità delle informazioni fornite sull’oggetto. Il Consiglio ha dovuto verificare la regolarità delle offerte, ovvero la coerenza e la pertinenza delle informazioni al fine di assicurare il principio di trasparenza. Non doveva decidere sull’opportunità del progetto industriale o economico. Il rischio che ciò poteva presentare non implicava un principio di rigetto.

701. – Consequently, the information constituted a source of litigation in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair. This contributed to highlighting the necessary coordination of the Financial Markets Council and the Stock Exchange Commission. For example, on 06/08/1999, the two authorities warned operators against “information presenting results as already established or based on polls using uncertain methods”. This joint intervention was justified by the complementarity of the missions of the two authorities. Indeed, the communication to the public of the results of the offers belonged to the Financial Markets Council. However, the Stock Exchange Commission guaranteed the sincerity of the information propagated on the markets.

B/ The missions of the Stock Exchange Commission

702. – Law No. 96-597 of 02/07/1996 had amended Ordinance No. 67-833 of 28/09/1967 establishing a Stock Exchange Commission on several important points, in particular its composition, its rules of deliberation, and the prevention of conflicts of interest. However, the legislator had not modified the two essential missions devolved to the Commission des Opérations de Bourse. It was a “skills block” on the activity of portfolio management on behalf of third parties (1) and the control of public offers (2).

1/ The “competence block” of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse on the activity of portfolio management on behalf of third parties

703. – The law on the modernization of financial activities had conferred on it a “block of powers” ​​on the activity of portfolio management on behalf of third parties. This concerned the regulation, approval and control of managers on behalf of third parties. This block included both the regulation and supervision of this activity in all investment services providers, and exclusive powers of regulation and control over the investment firms which exercised this activity as their main activity.

704. – In terms of approving the portfolio management activity program of investment providers, approving specialized companies and drafting the applicable regulations, it was assisted by the Financial Management Advisory Committee. It could be called upon in this matter by the Chairman of the Banking Commission or by the Chairman of the Financial Markets Council.

705. – Finally, it should be emphasized that the new powers of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse had led the legislator to provide for a closer intertwining of this authority with the banking authorities. Thus, the transmission of information, the right of referral for control and participation in the work of the CECEI and the Banking and Financial Regulation Committee were instituted.

706. – It therefore intervened in the drafting of the regulations, in their implementation, in their control and in particular the control of public offers.

2/ Control of public offers by the Stock Exchange Commission

707. – The Stock Exchange Commission had powers with regard to public offers (a). Moreover, the latter tended to go beyond its powers stricto sensu to achieve its objective of efficient control (b).

a/ The powers of the Stock Exchange Commission with regard to public offers

708. – The Stock Exchange Commission did not rule on the admissibility of public offers, but its mission was nevertheless not negligible. It had to ensure the protection of savings, information for investors and the proper functioning of financial instrument markets. As such, it played an essential role in controlling the information provided during public offerings as well as in monitoring stock market prices. These missions were codified in its Regulation No. 2002-04 relating to “public takeover bids relating to financial instruments traded on a regulated market”. They had implemented them by targeting the briefing notes. Indeed, by the granting of the visa of the information notes, to which the admissibility of the offer was subordinated, it controlled the information provided to the shareholders of the targeted companies and to the public. Its attributions were not limited to intervening at the project stage. The latter also exercised throughout the course of the public offers by following all the acts carried out by the companies concerned, so that key precepts such as the equal treatment of shareholders and the transparency of the offers are also ensured.

709. – To exercise its powers, the Commission had the power of investigation, sanction and injunction, direct or indirect. The Commission des Opérations de Bourse had already used its power of indirect injunction, in order to impose on the transferee of control of an over-the-counter company the filing of a public offer carried out by price guarantee. This use, which had been preceded by a joint letter of formal notice from the Stock Exchange Commission and the Financial Markets Council, was hardly contestable. It thus made it possible to compensate for the lack of power of the Financial Markets Council. This collaboration was revealing of a certain intrinsic inconsistency in the functioning of the French control authorities which suffered from their duality.

b/ The increase in the powers of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse

710. – This increase could be observed when using alternative press releases to formal decisions (α) and approved transactions (β).

α/ The use of alternative press releases to formal decisions

711. – This broadening was notably noted in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case in 1999. Indeed, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse took part in the stock market battle. She intervened because the information notes had to obtain her visa, but also because the stock market fight led her to be the author of a large number of press releases. Thus, for example, a press release dated 04/05/1999 endorsed an unpublished shareholders’ agreement. The latter, linking Axa and Paribas, had suddenly appeared during a public offer period. This required each of the parties to obtain the consent of the other when they wanted to transfer the securities they held. However, AXA was both the main holder of Paribas securities with nearly 7% of the capital and the most important support of BNP.

712. – It should be noted that the difficulties resulting from the non-disclosure of the pacts were resolved by article 1 of the law relating to new economic regulations modifying article L. 233-11 of the Commercial Code. The latter provides that any clause of an agreement providing for preferential conditions for the sale or acquisition of shares admitted to trading on a regulated market and relating to at least 0.5% of the capital or voting rights of the company which has issued these shares must be sent to the stock market regulatory authority, which publishes them. The deadline for communication was set at “five trading days from the signing of the agreement or the rider introducing the clause concerned”. It was essential to note an extension of the scope of the conventions concerned. As for the scope of the clauses concerned, the text was very precise and did not refer only to the agreements, but to the clauses which made them up. Thus, pre-emption clauses or “pacts of preference”, promises of sale or purchase, agreements for the contribution of securities to a public offer had to be advertised. In addition, the transmission obligation extended to all pacts comprising preferential conditions, regardless of the signatories. The great novelty therefore consisted in extending the mandatory publication of these agreements to relations with non-shareholders. The sanction was clearly provided for: in the absence of transmission, the effects of this clause were suspended, and the parties released from their commitments, during a public offer period. A derogation from common law was therefore enshrined. Indeed, it was provided that the absence of publicity given to a contract affects its legal validity and its effectiveness with regard to the parties.

713. – In line with the law on new economic regulations, Regulation No. 2002-04 required the initiator to provide information on the clauses of the agreements concluded by the companies concerned, or their shareholders, likely to have a impact on the assessment of the public offer or on its outcome.

714. – However, even after the resolution of this specific problem, the question of whether the press releases of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse could be qualified as a source of law still remained.

In the press release of 04/05/1999, interested parties were informed of the position of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse. Thus, the latter expressed its concern for transparency and fulfilled its role. However, in this case, the nature of the press release was questionable, given its content. Admittedly, it was not a source of law in the formal sense, but this press release substantially benefited from a legal scope. It was similar to ministerial responses, because although devoid of any binding force, it nevertheless had a de facto scope, which was granted to it by its addressees on the basis of the quality and authority of its author. Indeed, the power available to the Commission des Opérations de Bourse, allowed it to dictate rules whose effectiveness was little discussed. The economic law lawyer was not surprised because power is a source of standards. However, the process was too useful to be condemned in principle. It allowed a rapid, precise and concrete position to be taken. Only its abuse was reprehensible, when its object was to divert the legal regime from the sources of law.

The legality was indeed in question in the case of this press release. Although presented in an innocuous form, it carried out an indirect pressure. Indeed, he presumed first that the beneficiaries of the pacts, by not respecting their obligation to reveal them “had waived the right to avail themselves of the content of these agreements during the duration of the current offers”. He then indicated that, in the opposite case, the implementation of these pacts could be qualified as a maneuver affecting the smooth running of public offers.

As a result, this press release, by its content, had all the characteristics of a decision. On the one hand, it purported to interpret the will of some of the parties. On the other hand, he threatened them with legal action in the event of a contrary intention. Therefore, it was a decision that could cause damage, against which an appeal should have been granted.

Justice was therefore also at stake: could there be a judicial review of this press release? Since it was not a formal decision, any appeal was dismissed. But was this acceptable given the real scope of the press release?

Jurisprudence had already taken care to decide that the recourse opened before the judiciary aimed at any decision in the material sense and not only formal and had had the opportunity to assimilate a press release to a real decision. Moreover, the Paris Court of Appeal had considered “that a press release was worth a decision insofar as the financial market perceived it as such”. Textual support for this position could be found in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 6 § 1 of which specifies that everyone has the right to have his case heard by a court. when there is a dispute over his civil rights and obligations.

Moreover, it was this same article 6 § 1 which put the Securities and Exchange Commission in the hot seat. Indeed, it did not meet the requirements of a fair trial because of the accumulation of the functions of investigation and judgment.

715. – With regard to the separation of powers, the press release from the Commission des Opérations de Bourse caught the eye of the jurist because of its content. It didn’t just deliver information, it included an interpretation and thundered a threat. The first aspect related to the interpretation of the intentions of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse. It began by recalling that it was not part of its mission to rule on the validity and legal scope of shareholders’ pacts, only an arbitrator or a judge can do so. Nevertheless, it considered that by not proceeding with the publication of the pact as soon as the public offers were launched, the beneficiaries had waived their right to avail themselves of it throughout the duration of the procedure.

The second aspect was indeed the threat uttered at the end of the press release. If the parties did not spontaneously renounce to take advantage of the pact, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse reminded them that it could see it as a maneuver that would undermine the smooth running of public offers in progress. This was tantamount to implying that she would not have hesitated to pursue them. Consequently, to avoid any risk of sanction, the parties had an interest in complying with his will and not executing the pact from which they benefited. The Commission therefore gave itself the means to hinder the application of a convention whose validity was not disputed by anyone.

The assessment of the process could not be favourable. It should indeed be remembered that any independent administrative authority must, in order to fulfill its mission, implement the specific rules that govern it. It is not external to the legal system, but is part of it. It must therefore comply with all the standards, at least those which are not ruled out by its own regulations. More broadly, it must respect the distribution of powers, even if the separation of powers is partially undermined by their very existence.

Like any independent administrative authority, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse had to have the means for its action. However, it should not spill over into the territory of the courts, because that undermined the separation of powers and the distribution of competences. The legislator had perceived the difficulty and taken care to settle it. Thus, when a practice, contrary to the legislative or regulatory provisions, was likely to infringe the rights of savers, the Chairman of the Commission could request in summary proceedings that the person responsible for it be ordered to comply with these provisions, to put an end to the irregularity or to eliminate its effects. This was, in this case, what should have been done.

716. – The dialectic of the branches of law, here between stock market law and common law, was also at work between institutions, here between the independent administrative authorities and the judicial authorities. The Securities and Exchange Commission was not to have an absolute monopoly, since the usefulness and efficiency of the judicial authorities were essential to the regulation of economic and financial activities. Ultimately, it was dangerous for the powers of the Stock Exchange Commission to widen excessively, the use of the approved transaction tends to deepen this thesis.

β/ The use of the homologated transaction

717. – In 1999, during the stock market battle between BNP and Société Générale, a foreign investor had acquired in a single trading session a large block of securities from the latter during the offer period at a price higher than the quotation of the day on the regulated markets. The President of the Commission des Opérations de Bourse then seized the President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris. On the one hand, its request was based on article 12-2 of the order of 23/09/1967 aiming to order CGU to comply with the provisions of article 5-1-11 of the General Regulations of the Council financial markets, cancel the purchases made and consequently order the return of the securities acquired to the sellers. On the other hand, it tended to pronounce the sequestration of the litigious titles on the basis of article 8-1 of the ordinance. In the decision of 08/03/1999, pending the final judicial decision, the sequestration of the securities in question had been ordered with Sicovam. In view of the agreement reached between the Commission and the incriminated shareholder to put an end to this situation, in a curious and interesting decision, a protocol concluded between the Commission and CGU had been approved. The latter accepted the sequestration of the disputed titles for the three months following the homologation order of the President of the Court. Beyond this period, the securities were free and the voting rights available. This power of receivership had not been implemented, to our knowledge, until this decision. Finally, and in accordance with the request of the parties, the President of the Court had taken note of the discontinuance of the proceedings and action by the Commission. This order raised several questions.

718. – The first related to the person who initiates the proceedings. It was paradoxical to see the Stock Exchange Commission request compliance with a provision of the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council. This peculiarity was inherent in the fact that the Council did not have, like the Commission, the power to ask the courts to order the person responsible for an act contrary “to the legislative or regulatory provisions likely to infringe the rights savers to comply with these provisions, to put an end to the irregularity or to eliminate its effects”. This was an inconsistency which generated a necessary cooperation between the two authorities. So,

719. – As to the subject of the application itself, it was interesting to note that the grievance related to the violation of Article 5-1-11 of the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council and not to the article 45 of the law on the modernization of financial activities of 2/07/1996. If both had similar objectives, their scope was not the same. Article 5-1-11 stated that “from the start of the offer period and until the closing of the offer, all orders relating to the securities targeted by the offer are executed on the regulated market(s) on which the securities are admitted without investors being able to use the procedure provided for in Article 4-1-32. This obligation is waived when the transaction, included in an agreement other than an outright sale, is a necessary part of it”. Article 45 of the law on the modernization of financial activities, meanwhile, laid down a general principle of concentration of orders relating to financial instruments on a regulated market for investors residing in France, with however two possible exceptions. One related to the volume of the operation and the status of the investor and the other to its nature. In both cases, the aim was to impose a single price on transactions in the name of equal treatment and market transparency. However, if article 45 of the law on the modernization of financial activities had a general scope, such was not the case of article 5-1-11 of the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council. The latter only concerned the single case of transactions carried out during a public offer period. Beyond the closing date, the requirement imposed by this provision disappeared. The scope of application of Article 5-1-11 was therefore both broader and more restricted than that of Article 45. Broader in that it concerned all investors, and not only resident investors; more restricted insofar as it only covered cases of public offerings.

720. – The ambiguity of the Commission’s legal action therefore lay, in our view, in the choice of the legal basis adopted, even if it is true that it had no other possibilities. Indeed, an appeal based on article 45 of the law of 02/07/1996 would probably not have been more successful. The problem here stemmed from the fact that only Article 45 set the conditions under which the principle of centralization of orders on a regulated market could be derogated from, and that in this case it was not clear that these derogations had been raped. Indeed, Article 45 only targeted investors usually residing or established in France. Consequently, a transaction between two non-resident investors did not fall within the scope of this provision. This was indeed the case here where CGU had acquired a block of shares in Société Générale from non-resident investors. Moreover, this operation had been concluded outside the territory of the Republic. There was therefore no criterion of attachment to French law, except to retain the nationality of the issuer of the securities in question. For its part, Article 5-1-11 was of broader application insofar as it concerned all investors, and not only residents. It was therefore a question of determining whether a regulatory provision could have extraterritorial effect. To do this, that provision should have been qualified as a “policy law”. In this case, it was difficult to designate Article 5-1-11 as such when a legislative provision tending to the same effects did not concern non-resident investors. Consequently, it would have been interesting to know on the merits the position of justice on the scope of application in space of this article of the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council. It is possible to think that it was by noting that its action was not legally rigorous and would therefore not be confirmed by the trial judges that the Commission preferred to conclude the protocol with CGU.

L’abandon d’instance par la Commission « en contrepartie » du gel des droits de vote pendant la durée des offres, était à cet égard significatif de l’objectif recherché. Le plus important était d’éviter l’utilisation des droits de vote en pleine bataille boursière, ce qui aurait pu favoriser la Société Générale par rapport à la BNP. Par conséquent, dès lors que ceux-ci étaient bloqués, l’objectif était atteint. Rien ne justifiait la poursuite des actions en cours, d’où la « transaction ».

721. – In view of these difficulties, the legislator intervened within the framework of the law relating to new economic regulations. Article 2 of the law inserted an article L. 421-13 in the Monetary and Financial Code as follows: “Transactions in financial instruments subject to a public offer may only be carried out on a regulated market in a State party to the agreement on the European Economic Area or on a market recognized pursuant to Article L. 423-1 on which these financial instruments are admitted to trading”. Consequently, Article L. 421-13 of the Monetary and Financial Code formulates without any ambiguity the general obligation of concentration of transactions during the offer period. Two sanctions came to ensure the respect of the device. Firstly, provision was made for the nullity of any transaction in a financial instrument not carried out on a regulated market. On the other hand, a more atypical sanction was constituted by the deprivation of voting rights for the holders of financial instruments having acquired these instruments in disregard of the stated principle. The usefulness of the existence of these two sanctions was discussed. Indeed, how to exercise voting rights attached to securities whose acquisition has been cancelled?

722. – Outre le problème de l’acquisition de titres hors-marché en période d’offre publique, se posait la question de la nature de l’accord entre la Commission et un acteur économique. Sans aucun doute, un nouvel outil juridique était né : « le protocole homologué ». La nature de cet acte était une transaction au sens de l’article 2044 du Code civil. Ce protocole s’analysait en effet comme un « contrat par lequel les parties mettent fin à un litige ou l’évitent en se consentant des concessions réciproques », l’homologation lui conférant l’autorité de la chose jugée.

723. – Enfin, la question du fondement juridique de cette transaction de la COB avec un acteur économique demeurait incertaine. Même si on s’en remettait au droit commun, cette transaction serait susceptible de susciter des difficultés eu égard au principe de prohibition de la transaction en matière pénale. Certes, il ne s’agissait pas formellement d’une procédure de sanction. Néanmoins, « ce manquement à une règle de marché aurait pu, le cas échéant, conduire à la mise en œuvre de l’ouverture d’une procédure de sanction administrative, qui est assimilée (…) à une sanction pénale au regard du respect du principe des droits de la défense ». En réalité, seule une présentation contractuelle du pouvoir des autorités de régulation aurait pu fonder cet accord.

724. – Par conséquent, sous prétexte de l’efficacité de son action, l’autorité de régulation se permettait de dépasser les pouvoirs qui lui avaient été attribués ce qui n’était pas sans présenter un danger. Reste à savoir s’il s’agit d’une technique destinée à être réutilisée par la nouvelle institution de contrôle que constitue l’Autorité des marchés financiers. En effet, la Commission des opérations de bourse n’existe plus depuis la consécration d’une unification des autorités de régulation.

§ 2 : La consécration d’une unification des autorités de régulation

725. – Les autorités de régulation boursières ont dû régulièrement s’adapter à des défis nouveaux : l’intégration des marchés financiers, la concurrence croissante entre places financières, l’émergence des conglomérats financiers.

Il était nécessaire de moderniser le contrôle des activités financières pour faire face à ces évolutions. Dans ce contexte, les autorités françaises paraissaient trop nombreuses et segmentées et ne permettaient pas une action optimale vis-à-vis des institutions étrangères. Ainsi, il fallait simplifier et rationaliser le dispositif français pour protéger au mieux le système bancaire et financier.

La fusion des institutions boursières par la création de l’Autorité des marchés financiers (A) consacre donc une unification des prérogatives au sein de l’Autorité des marchés financiers (B).

A/ La fusion des institutions boursières par la création de l’Autorité des marchés financiers

726. – L’Autorité des marchés financiers est née de la fusion de la Commission des opérations de bourse, du Conseil des marchés financiers et du Conseil de discipline de la gestion financière.

727. – La nouvelle institution n’a pas la même nature que ses ancêtres. En effet, elle est une autorité publique indépendante. Il convient de remarquer que cette qualification juridique est tout à fait inédite. Celle-ci se distingue, notamment, de la notion d’autorité administrative indépendante classique. En effet, cette nouvelle autorité dispose de la personnalité morale. Logiquement, elle est autonome financièrement dans la mesure où elle perçoit le produit des taxes prélevées dans l’exercice de ses contrôles.

728. – Elle est composée d’un collège et d’une commission des sanctions. Une telle organisation vise notamment à répondre aux exigences d’impartialité en matière de sanctions. 729. – La légalité et la transparence de la prise de décision sont assurées. En effet, la présence d’un commissaire du Gouvernement, qui veille notamment à la conformité des décisions aux textes législatifs et réglementaires, a été prévue.

730. – Les règles de majorité et de consultation écrite visent à assurer la plus grande efficacité de l’instance. En outre, la désignation d’un représentant de la Banque de France a permis de bénéficier des compétences de cette institution en matière financière.

731. – La création de cette nouvelle institution, que constitue l’Autorité des marchés financiers, a donc pour objectif premier d’être plus cohérente à l’échelle nationale et européenne. Incontestablement, celle-ci exerce plus efficacement la régulation des marchés grâce à une unification des missions à son profit.

B/ L’unification des prérogatives au sein de l’Autorité des marchés financiers

732. – L’Autorité des marchés financiers exerce les prérogatives qui étaient dévolues à la Commission des opérations de bourse, au Conseil des marchés financiers et au Conseil de discipline de la gestion financière

733. – Elle est dotée de compétences dans l’organisation et le fonctionnement des marchés, les offres publiques et les règles de pratique professionnelle qui s’imposent aux acteurs. Elle prend des règlements qui doivent être homologués par le ministre de l’Economie et des Finances. La présence du commissaire du Gouvernement et l’homologation par le ministre garantissent la cohérence de ces règles avec les normes de droit supérieures.

L’Autorité des marchés financiers dispose de la capacité de prendre des décisions générales commentant les règlements et des décisions individuelles d’application des règlements.

734. – Le champ des contrôles de l’autorité recouvre l’intégralité de ceux dévolus à la Commission des opérations de bourse et au Conseil des marchés financiers. Ainsi, celle-ci peut effectuer des contrôles et des enquêtes.

Il est procédé à une rationalisation des moyens d’action de l’autorité en cas de violation des normes édictées pour assurer le bon fonctionnement des marchés et protéger les épargnants. Ainsi, pour un traitement plus rapide des affaires, l’autorité dispose d’un pouvoir d’injonction et peut ainsi faire cesser les pratiques qui portent atteinte aux droits des épargnants et à la structure du marché. L’Autorité des marchés financiers peut également saisir les tribunaux en la forme des référés. L’objectif est « qu’il soit ordonné à la personne qui est responsable de la pratique relevée de se conformer aux dispositions législatives ou réglementaires, de mettre fin à l’irrégularité ou d’en supprimer les effets ».

Enfin, la nouvelle autorité conserve l’ensemble des pouvoirs disciplinaires dévolus à la Commission des opérations de bourse, au Conseil des marchés financiers et au Conseil de discipline de la gestion financière.

735. – En termes de procédure, pour les sanctions administratives comme pour les sanctions disciplinaires, la séparation entre les différentes phases est parfaitement assurée. Le collège examine le rapport d’enquête ou de contrôle établi par les services de l’Autorité des marchés financiers. S’il décide l’ouverture d’une procédure de sanction, il notifie les griefs aux personnes concernées. Il transmet la notification des griefs à la commission des sanctions qui désigne un rapporteur. La commission des sanctions peut, après une procédure contradictoire, prononcer une sanction.

736. – L’ensemble de ces dispositions a permis d’aboutir à une action plus efficace de la régulation boursière. Néanmoins, une difficulté primordiale doit encore être résolue. Il s’agit de la rencontre de la logique de régulation bancaire avec la logique de régulation boursière.

Section 2 : La rencontre de la logique de régulation bancaire avec la logique de régulation boursière

737. – Les offres publiques bancaires ont l’originalité de faire se rencontrer deux dispositifs de régulation animés par des logiques propres. Cette rencontre apparaît comme une confrontation tant les logiques de régulation se révèlent différentes. Ainsi, deux logiques apparaissent : libre-échangisme boursier et protectionnisme bancaire (§ 1). Mais cette rencontre impose une certaine conciliation des deux systèmes (§ 2).

§ 1 : La confrontation de deux logiques

738. – Les offres publiques bancaires confrontent plusieurs logiques de régulation différentes. Cette différence se traduit tant au niveau des principes qui président à la régulation des deux systèmes (A) qu’au niveau de l’action des autorités (B).

A/ La confrontation des principes

739. – Les principes qui président à l’action des autorités de régulation pendant les concentrations bancaires ne sont pas les mêmes. Bien au contraire, ceux-ci sont la traduction de différences de culture. Alors que la régulation bancaire repose sur des principes de protection des établissements de crédit (1), la régulation boursière s’attache à assurer la meilleure concurrence des offres (2).

1/ Le souci de protection du système bancaire

740. – L’objectif essentiel des dispositions bancaires est le maintien de la stabilité du système bancaire. Il s’agit « d’éviter tout risque systémique, c’est à dire l’apparition de difficultés qui mettraient en cause le fonctionnement de l’ensemble du système bancaire, voire qui affecterait les conditions générales de financement de l’économie ». Ainsi, on se trouve en présence d’une logique de protection des établissements de crédit. Le secteur doit être mis à l’abri des perturbations qui pourraient l’affecter. La régulation qui en découle est protectionniste.

Comme nous l’avons vu, le droit de l’accès à l’activité bancaire appréhende les entreprises qui composent le secteur. Incontestablement, l’objet premier de cette régulation n’est autre que les établissements de crédit. Assurer la stabilité du système, c’est d’abord s’assurer de la stabilité des établissements qui le composent et, notamment, de veiller à ce que ceux-ci fassent l’objet d’une « gestion saine et prudente ». C’est la logique de l’agrément et du contrôle des modifications de situation affectant les établissements de crédit. Pour dégager les principes de l’action régulatrice des autorités bancaires, il faut donc se référer aux critères qui président à l’octroi et au maintien de l’agrément. Comme nous l’avons déjà exposé, ces deux initiatives relèvent du contrôle prudentiel des établissements de crédit.

Les principes directeurs du système bancaire sont donc inspirés du souci de protection par le biais du contrôle prudentiel des établissements de crédit. La démarche de la régulation boursière est tout autre.

2/ Le souci d’assurer le libre jeu du marché financier

741. – Plusieurs principes sont apparus comme permanents au cours des différentes réformes. Les textes aujourd’hui en vigueur en font la synthèse en énonçant les principes directeurs de la régulation. Ils témoignent tous du souci d’assurer le bon fonctionnement du marché en y favorisant la meilleure confrontation de l’offre et de la demande.

742. – L’idée de neutralité de la régulation est omniprésente même si elle est d’apparition récente et si sa formulation, en principe, est assez rare. En effet, le législateur, comme les autorités, cherche à maintenir un équilibre entre la possibilité de prendre le contrôle des entreprises cotées et le souci de donner aux cibles le moyen de se défendre. Monsieur Bérégovoy insista sur le souci de neutralité lors des débats au Sénat consacrés au projet de loi du 08/03/1989 en affirmant que le texte gouvernemental n’était ni favorable ni défavorable à cette technique de concentration. De même, le principe de transparence des marchés financiers constitue un leitmotiv. L’article L. 621-1 du Code monétaire et financier confère à l’Autorité des marchés financiers la mission de « veiller (…) à l’information des investisseurs ». Cette action est même érigée en « remède miracle » pour revitaliser les marchés. La transparence devient un élément essentiel dans les réformes de la fin des années 1980. L’exposé des motifs du projet de loi du 26/06/1987 y fait expressément référence, tandis que la loi du 02/08/1989 contient le principe de transparence du marché financier dans son intitulé même. Les principes de sécurité et de protection comptent également parmi les principes cardinaux du droit des marchés financiers. Néanmoins, ceux-ci sont systématiquement évoqués en même temps que celui de transparence. Dès lors, ils apparaissent moins comme des principes autonomes que comme l’objectif poursuivi par la transparence.

743. – Les principes directeurs du droit boursier sont aujourd’hui clairement contenus dans les deux textes de référence en la matière. L’article L. 433-1 du Code monétaire et financier est essentiel tant par son contenu que par son rang dans la hiérarchie des normes. Celui-ci dispose qu’afin d’assurer l’égalité des actionnaires et la transparence des marchés, le Règlement général de l’autorité de régulation boursière fixe les règles relatives aux offres publiques portant sur des instruments financiers négociés sur un marché réglementé. Le règlement général de l’Autorité des marchés financiers dispose, quant à lui, en son article 231-3 qu’« en vue d’un déroulement ordonné des opérations au mieux des intérêts des investisseurs et du marché, toutes les personnes concernées par une offre publique doivent respecter le libre jeu des offres et de leurs surenchères, d’égalité de traitement et d’information des détenteurs des titres des personnes concernées, de transparence et d’intégrité du marché et de loyauté dans les transactions et la compétition ». Plusieurs principes se dégagent. Le principe de transparence est réitéré. Des principes nouveaux apparaissent : intégrité du marché, loyauté et surtout, égalité des actionnaires. Pour être nouveaux, ces principes ne relèvent pas moins d’une philosophie commune. Cette philosophie commune est la protection du marché financier.

744. – Ainsi, les deux systèmes de régulation mis en œuvre pendant les offres publiques bancaires reposent-ils sur des principes différents. Logiquement, cette confrontation des principes explique la confrontation des autorités.

B/ La confrontation de l’action des autorités

745. – Les concentrations bancaires suscitent des décisions multiples des autorités de régulation. Les décisions de l’Autorité des marchés financiers et du CECEI apparaissent notamment comme relevant de logiques différentes. Ces différences de régularité s’expliquent tant par la mise en œuvre de leur « légalité » respective dans le cadre de la régularité des projets (1), que par la mise à profit de leur marge d’appréciation (2).

1/ La mise en œuvre de leur légalité respective

746. – Le contrôle a priori effectué par l’Autorité des marchés financiers et le CECEI, respectivement sur les offres publiques et sur les prises de participation dans un établissement de crédit, est d’une nature identique. Les autorités de régulation exercent un contrôle de la régularité du contenu des projets qui leurs sont soumis (a). C’est donc, en appliquant leur légalité respective que les solutions apparaissent divergentes (b).

a/ Des contrôles de la régularité des projets

747. – L’Autorité des marchés financiers et le CECEI exercent un contrôle de la régularité objective des projets qui leurs sont soumis. La nature objective de cette appréciation se traduit par une codification très précise des éléments sur la base desquels seront prises les décisions et par la définition d’un bloc de légalité.

748. – First of all, the texts provide for the precise elements that the requests must contain. The admissibility decision issued by the Autorité des marchés financiers is taken on the basis of a letter specifying, in addition to the irrevocable nature of the offers, their objectives, the securities already held, the price or parities offered and the waiver threshold. The authorization to take a stake issued by the CECEI is carried out on the basis of a file including “very in-depth information of a nature comparable to that provided for an approval”. In particular, this file must contain a letter of request, a description of the operation, information on the impact of the modification on the company,

749. – Next, the texts also provide for the elements that must be taken into consideration in decision-making. To assess the admissibility of the draft offer, Article 231-23 of the General Regulations of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers provides that in order to assess the admissibility of the draft offer, the stock market authority examines: the objectives and intentions of the initiator, the price or the exchange parity according to the objective evaluation criteria usually retained; the nature, characteristics, quotation or market of the securities offered in exchange, the threshold below which it reserves the right to withdraw its offer. With regard to the control of shareholdings by the CECEI, the texts do not provide for any particular rule. Insofar as this control is an extension of the approval, the same elements must be retained. These are the elements of prudential control that we have already mentioned: capital structure, reputation and competence of managers, etc.

750. – Finally, the authorities must decide on the basis of a block of legality in the broad sense. This block is articulated around two series of elements. First of all, the authorities must respect the textual provisions. Thus, in stock market matters, the Paris Court of Appeal clarified its scope in the case of BNP/Société Générale/Paribas. She stated that the stock market regulator must “apply the provisions (…) of the General Regulations, which incorporate the requirements of civil law relating to the determination of the subject of the offer”. In banking matters, the CECEI must rule on all the banking provisions resulting from the law of 01/24/1984. Jurisprudence has already had occasion to affirm this point by stating that the CECEI “is entitled to refer, to refuse to authorize an acquisition of a stake or control, to the assessment criteria laid down by the banking law for the issuance of approval…”. The Committee even expressly referred to it in its last press release relating to BNP’s acquisition of a stake in Société Générale, stating that it had “carried out an in-depth examination of this request with regard to the provisions of the banking law”. . Then, the assessment of the authorities must be guided by the respective guiding principles of each control system. This reference to the respective guiding principles of each control system appears expressly in the General Regulations of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers. Article 231-23 provides that the stock market regulatory authority “may ask the initiator to modify its project if it considers that it may undermine the principles defined by article 231-3” which is not other than the article setting out the general principles of public offers. In terms of equity participation in a credit institution, the reference is tacit. It is no less real. Indeed, the purpose of monitoring changes in the situation of banks is to protect the banking system by ensuring the stability of institutions and in particular their “sound and prudent management”. In terms of equity participation in a credit institution, the reference is tacit. It is no less real. Indeed, the purpose of monitoring changes in the situation of banks is to protect the banking system by ensuring the stability of institutions and in particular their “sound and prudent management”. In terms of equity participation in a credit institution, the reference is tacit. It is no less real. Indeed, the purpose of monitoring changes in the situation of banks is to protect the banking system by ensuring the stability of institutions and in particular their “sound and prudent management”.

751. – Thus, the a priori control carried out by the Autorité des marchés financiers and the CECEI is of an identical nature. This concerns the regularity of public offering or equity participation projects with regard to specific criteria. The fact that the authorities place emphasis in their regulations and in their decisions on the assessment criteria used shows to what extent the objective nature of the control is affirmed. Thus, for example, the General Regulations of the Financial Markets Council with regard to the price or exchange parity criterion specify that the assessment is made “according to the objective evaluation criteria usually adopted and the characteristics of the target company. Therefore, the assessment of each authority during public offers appears justified in law.

b/ Independence of assessments justified by law

752. – In the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case, the stock market regulatory authority had pronounced the admissibility of the draft offer, while the CECEI had decided not to authorize the BNP to hold a stake representing 31.8% of Société Générale’s voting rights. Between these two decisions, there is a profound independence of the assessments of each authority. Independence which proceeds from that of the blocks of legality implemented.

753. – Indeed, the decision of admissibility of the stock market authority was justified with regard to the texts and the reference principles of public offers as we have already specified.

754. – The decision of the CECEI did not appear less justified in law. Admittedly, the absence of publication of the decision itself, as well as the absence of legal recourse, deprives us of precious clarifications. However, none of the textual provisions stricto sensu were violated. As regards the principles, and in particular the stability of the banking system, the Committee’s decision was not without foundation. Indeed, the plan to merge the BNP and Société Générale networks could raise fears of serious social difficulties likely to destabilize two major establishments and, consequently, the entire banking system.

755. – Thus, the decisions of the stock market regulatory authority and of the CECEI, although diverging in terms of their results, nevertheless appeared to be equally well-founded in law. This demonstrates the essential origin of their divergent approaches: their respective legality. We must not neglect the weight of the cultures of each regulation either. The latter can be integrated into the decision of each authority thanks to the implementation of their discretionary power. 2/ The use of their margin of appreciation

756. – Public banking offers are likely to give rise to different decisions between stock market and banking authorities due to the latter’s use of the discretionary power they enjoy in accordance with the logic of each branch of law.

757. – The control exercised by the two authorities takes on the nature of a control of regularity and excludes in principle any control of expediency. However, we cannot neglect their respective discretionary powers.

758. – Admittedly, in both cases, any control of economic opportunity is excluded. As regards first of all the control of the admissibility of public offers, the Paris Court of Appeal considers that in the context of the examination of the admissibility of an offer carried out by the stock market authority, the latter does not have to examine the advisability of the industrial or economic project. It only has to assess its consistency with regard to the provisions of Article 5-1-1 of its General Regulations, ie its compliance with the takeover operation submitted to it. This formulation is reminiscent of that used for the approval issued by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, which does not relate to the economic opportunity of the operation but only to the verification of the relevance and consistency of the information. Turning then, control of equity investments in a credit institution, the assertion is less clear. Jurisprudence has not really had the opportunity to rule on this point. We can, however, find a clue in the original wording of article 32 of the law of 24/01/1984, relating to appeals against the decisions of the CECEI. This provided, in fact, that “the decisions of the Credit Institutions Committee are only subject to appeal for abuse of power”. This provision reinforces the nature of control of the objective regularity of the project to acquire a stake. An assessment of opportunity is rather a hierarchical control that this restrictive wording was intended to exclude. Finally, the doctrine seems to recognize the objective nature of this control. Notably,

759. – Néanmoins, la décision de recevabilité de l’autorité boursière tout comme l’autorisation délivrée par le CECEI procèdent pour une bonne part, du pouvoir discrétionnaire de chaque autorité de régulation. Les textes se bornent, en effet, à indiquer les éléments à prendre en compte et les objectifs à poursuivre. La complexité des éléments qui leur sont soumis engendre des appréciations reposant sur un grand nombre de considérations. Les autorités ne sauraient donc avoir une compétence totalement liée. Conformément à la logique de la régulation économique, les autorités apprécient in concreto les projets qui leur sont soumis pour assurer le bon fonctionnement du marché boursier et du système bancaire. A cette occasion, elles usent de leur pouvoir dans le sens de leur propre logique.

760. – Par conséquent, les décisions prises par les autorités essentielles des deux systèmes de régulation sont profondément différentes dans leur esprit. Différence qui procède certes des normes que chacune doit appliquer, mais également de leur marge d’appréciation imprégnée par leur culture respective. De ce point de vue, la rencontre des deux logiques peut ainsi prendre l’apparence d’une véritable confrontation. Cependant, les offres publiques bancaires ne confrontent pas seulement deux systèmes, elles imposent également leur conciliation.

§ 2 : La conciliation des deux systèmes

761. – Les offres publiques bancaires suscitent la rencontre de deux systèmes de régulation animés par des logiques différentes. Dès lors, l’un des intérêts essentiels consiste dans la mise en œuvre concomitante de deux logiques apparemment antagonistes. S’agissant du processus de décision de chaque dispositif, leur conciliation n’est pas nécessaire en raison d’une répartition dans le temps de leur action : l’une succédant à l’autre (A). S’agissant des principes cependant, la conciliation est inévitable. Celle-ci se traduit par une domination de la régulation bancaire sur la régulation boursière (B).

A/ La coexistence de l’action des autorités

762. – Il coordinamento dell’azione delle autorità bancarie e borsistiche pone molte difficoltà. Nelle due fasi decisive, quella iniziale e quella finale, la procedura bancaria si integra solo con difficoltà nella procedura delle offerte pubbliche. Questa indipendenza dei due processi si traduce in una distribuzione temporale delle competenze. Nella fase iniziale, è l’autorità di borsa che appare come capo del processo (1). Al contrario, questo ruolo spetta all’autorità bancaria durante la fase finale (2).

1/ L’Autorità di borsa, capofila nella fase di ammissibilità

763. – La decisione essenziale spetta all’autorità borsistica nella fase iniziale. Incapace di essere realmente presa in considerazione, la decisione dell’Autorità bancaria sfuma dietro quella dell’Autorità dei mercati finanziari. I rispettivi processi del diritto borsistico e del diritto bancario mostrano una relativa indifferenza reciproca che si spiega con il principio di autonomia nella decisione sull’ammissibilità delle offerte pubbliche. Tale principio comporta l’impossibilità di qualsiasi collegamento con il merito della decisione di ricevibilità (a). Gli unici collegamenti possibili riguardano il calendario e si rivelano insufficienti (b).

a/ L’autonomia giuridica della decisione di ricevibilità

764. – La mancanza di coordinamento tra la decisione di ricevibilità dell’Autorité des marchés financiers e l’autorizzazione della CECEI discende da un principio più ampio. Si tratta dell’autonomia di ammissibilità delle offerte pubbliche voluta dal governo e dalle autorità per rivitalizzare il mercato azionario.

765. – Tuttavia, un meccanismo di coordinamento sarebbe tale da facilitare notevolmente l’articolazione del sistema bancario e borsistico. Avrebbe anche il merito della chiarezza. Tuttavia, non è mai stato ammesso per la regolamentazione bancaria. Oggi nulla consente all’Autorità per i mercati finanziari di sospendere la decisione sull’ammissibilità delle offerte a qualsiasi decisione di un’altra autorità di regolazione. Essendo i due processi borsistico e bancario sostanzialmente autonomi, solo le disposizioni relative al calendario delle offerte potrebbero unificare in qualche modo la procedura seguita.

b/ Autonomia di fatto della data di apertura delle offerte

766. – La disciplina delle offerte pubbliche condiziona l’apertura e il calendario delle operazioni al tener conto di autorizzazioni preventive. Se formalmente l’ammissibilità non è quindi sospesa a tali decisioni, il calendario appare come un palliativo dell’autonomia delle autorità. Ma se questa possibilità è stata ampiamente attuata, non ha unificato il trattamento delle offerte bancarie pubbliche da parte delle due autorità.

767. – In concreto, i testi prevedono la presa in considerazione nel calendario delle offerte di eventuali decisioni di altri ordinamenti regolamentari. In questo caso, questa disposizione non riguarda solo il controllo della concorrenza delle concentrazioni. L’articolo 231-30 del regolamento generale dell’Autorité des Marchés Financiers prevede che “l’offerta è aperta il giorno successivo alla pubblicazione del memorandum informativo, o congiuntamente dall’iniziatore e dalla società interessata, o dall’iniziatore, dopo aver ricevuto il visto dell’AMF e previa ricezione da parte dell’AMF, ove applicabili, delle autorizzazioni preventive richieste dalla normativa vigente”. Sono quindi interessati tutti i meccanismi di autorizzazione preventiva, il che consente di tener conto dell’autorizzazione del CECEI. Pertanto,

768. – Cette prise en considération des décisions du CECEI s’est illustrée à plusieurs reprises. En effet, l’autorité de régulation financière y a fait plusieurs fois référence. Ainsi, dans l’affaire BNP/ Société Générale/ Paribas, elle a rappelé l’énoncé de son Règlement général : l’offre publique sera ouverte après réception par l’autorité de régulation financière « des autorisations préalables requises par la législation en vigueur ». Ensuite, elle a « reçu copie des autorisations préalables requises par la législation en vigueur ». Elle a même évoqué l’autorité bancaire de manière plus précise : « la date de clôture de l’offre en surenchère de la Société Générale sur Paribas sera fixée (…) après autorisation du Comité des établissements de crédit et des entreprises d’investissement… ». De même, elle a arrêté la date de clôture, « au vu, en particulier, de la demande exprimée par le CECEI le 21/06/1999 à l’intention des trois établissements concernés de parvenir à élaborer une solution commune dans les meilleurs délais ». En outre, dans la concentration Crédit Agricole/ Crédit Lyonnais, des renvois similaires ont été utilisés. Par exemple, celle-ci a précisé qu’une nouvelle information serait publiée pour faire connaître la date d’ouverture et de clôture de l’offre après réception « des autorisations préalables requises par la législation en vigueur ». De fait, l’autorité de régulation financière a veillé à prendre systématiquement en compte les autorisations préalables du CECEI.

769. – Pour autant, cette liaison au niveau du calendrier n’est pas suffisante pour unifier le processus de décision entre l’Autorité des marchés financiers et le CECEI. En effet, le caractère préalable du contrôle du CECEI a volé en éclats au cours des offres publiques et ce, pour deux raisons. D’une part, contrairement au contrôle communautaire de la concurrence où l’autorisation préalable vaut quelles que soient les surenchères effectuées par la suite, le CECEI doit délivrer une autorisation spéciale pour chaque nouvelle offre. D’autre part, l’autorisation délivrée par l’autorité bancaire est conditionnelle. Ces caractères tendent à transformer ce contrôle a priori en contrôle a posteriori. Dès lors, le fait pour l’Autorité des marchés financiers de prendre en considération l’autorisation préalable délivrée par le CECEI n’a pas plus de conséquences que celle de retarder le calendrier. La logique de l’autorisation préalable est en effet de permettre le déroulement d’un processus ou de l’empêcher ab initio. Poser une condition c’est renvoyer l’appréciation à la fin de l’opération. Cela fait donc disparaître l’intérêt de l’autorisation préalable, celui de la sécurité juridique pour les acteurs lesquels risquent de s’engager dans une opération difficile sans avoir la certitude de pouvoir atteindre in fine leurs objectifs. Le droit et le fait se conjuguent ici pour écarter de la décision l’autorité bancaire, ce qui a pour conséquence de faire de l’Autorité des marchés financiers la tête de file de cette première phase. L’autorité bancaire prend néanmoins à son tour la tête du processus lors de la décision finale.

2/ L’autorité bancaire, tête de file lors de la phase de décision finale

770. – Lors de la phase de décision finale, les deux autorités doivent développer des coopérations, vu l’enchevêtrement de leurs compétences. Celles-ci sont néanmoins superficielles (a). En outre, ces coordinations dissimulent mal une véritable domination du CECEI qui, de fait, prend la seule décision finale (b).

a/ Des coordinations superficielles

771. – L’Autorité de régulation financière et le CECEI ont dû coordonner leur action s’agissant de leurs décisions finales. Ces coopérations ont pu notamment s’appuyer sur les différents liens organiques existant entre les autorités. En effet, la Banque de France dispose d’un représentant auprès de l’Autorité des marchés financiers. En outre, le CECEI comprend le président des autorités qui ont approuvé le programme d’activité d’un prestataire de service d’investissement. Ainsi, les organes de décision des autorités de régulation sont des lieux privilégiés de concertation et de coordination entre les autorités.

772. – Moreover, their competences overlap in such a way that it is impossible for them to decide in isolation. The Autorité des marchés financiers is responsible for announcing the results of the public offer. Article 5-3-2 of its General Regulations stipulates that the market operator informs the authority of the number of securities presented in response. The authority publishes the result of the offer and, if the offer is successful, announces the number of shares acquired by the initiator. However, the CECEI must decide on the basis of precise thresholds, in particular in order to be able to decide with regard to the quantified criteria which it itself set out in its press release of 03/29/1999, in which it announced that it would authorize “50.01% takeovers…”. Therefore, the CECEI cannot decide before knowing the figures. These can only be published by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers and constitute the results of the offer, results which cannot be acquired until the CECEI has made its decision. It is obvious that only a coordination of the decisions of the two authorities can make it possible to overcome the difficulty.

773. – Ainsi, en plein cœur des offres publiques bancaires de la BNP sur la Société Générale et Paribas, il a été mis en place une structure permanente de concertation entre les autorités des deux systèmes. Celle-ci est la première pierre essentielle de cette recherche de cohérence entre les deux systèmes de régulation. Cette structure a été créée par la loi du 25/06/1999 relative à l’épargne et à la sécurité financière. Elle a pris la forme d’un « collège des autorités financières » et a eu pour vocation initiale de « tirer toutes les conséquences des opérations récentes et de l’évolution des marchés financiers ». Ce collège a été à l’origine de diverses dispositions de la loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques en matière financière et est destiné à perdurer pour améliorer la concertation entre les autorités.

774. – Ensuite, depuis l’offre publique de la BNP sur la Société Générale et Paribas, l’autorité de régulation financière publie un résultat provisoire de l’offre. L’avis de résultat définitif n’est publié qu’après que le CECEI ait statué sur l’opération. L’Autorité des marchés financiers rend ensuite public les résultats définitifs de l’offre publique. Ceci permet de préserver la cohérence du processus d’ensemble. Cependant, il est fondamental de constater que la coordination s’effectue par une forme de domination.

b/ Une coordination en forme de domination

775. – La phase finale des offres publiques bancaires met en évidence une coordination superficielle des deux autorités de régulation. Néanmoins, cette coordination ne saurait être perçue comme égalitaire.

776. – Il ne s’agit pas de concilier deux décisions à part entière. Conformément à la logique de la régulation des offres publiques, l’Autorité des marchés financiers n’a pas à se prononcer sur le résultat des offres. Elle ne fait que rendre public un décompte effectué par la SBF. Le droit boursier, droit du bon fonctionnement des marchés financiers, conduit l’autorité compétente à entériner le résultat de l’opération lorsqu’elle constate que la procédure d’offre s’est régulièrement déroulée. Seuls les actionnaires étant fondés à décider à l’issue de l’offre du point de vue du droit boursier, l’Autorité des marchés financiers entérine donc plus qu’elle ne décide. Au contraire, le CECEI, chargé de mettre en œuvre le droit bancaire, prend sa décision pour des raisons substantielles. Ce dernier, afin de protéger le bon fonctionnement du système bancaire, refuse une prise de participation résultant du jeu des offres lorsqu’il estime qu’un risque de perturbation du système bancaire existe.

Consequently, public banking offers bring together two regulatory processes. The confrontation of the guiding principles of each logic leads on the other hand to a difficult reconciliation. This reconciliation results in an undeniable domination of banking law.

B/ Reconciliation of principles through the domination of banking law

777. – When principles appear incompatible, they must be reconciled: it is those of stock market regulation that seem to give way. Banking regulation is asserting itself in the face of this, both in terms of the principles intended to clarify the choice of the market (1), and those which make it possible to assess the choice of the latter (2).

1/ The questioning of the principles intended to clarify the choice of the market

778. – The very fact that another regulatory system intervenes in the price of a public offering calls into question certain principles of stock market law. Two principles relating to the need to allow investors to make decisions with full knowledge of the facts have in fact been affected by the emergence of this system without a compromise having been found. This is the principle of transparency on the one hand (a) and the principle of irrevocability of offers on the other hand (b).

a/ Violation of the principle of transparency

779. – We have already specified the importance of the principle of transparency in the law on public offers. This is now affirmed by Article L. 433-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code and by Article 231-3 of the General Regulations of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers. It is one of the guiding principles of this regulation.

780. – The eruption of the CECEI undermines this principle insofar as an authority unrelated to the law on public offers rules on the basis of rules little known to investors. The principle of transparency tends, in fact, to allow the “shareholders of the company targeted by the offer (…) [to] make their decision on the basis of fair and clear information”. Consequently, the fact that the public offer is subject to a parallel regulatory process, quite obscure from the point of view of its procedure and its assessment criteria, obviously prevents investors from acting in full knowledge of the facts . In other words, the market cannot truly anticipate events. The efforts made by the CECEI, in particular through the publication of letters from the governor, do not give the feeling of real transparency or real predictability. In the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair, this was reflected throughout the offers, and in particular each time the CECEI took a stand, by a market sanction on the share price of the three credit institutions. Thus, the irruption of an unknown regulatory system in public offers calls into question the principle of transparency of public offers. It also calls into question the principle of irrevocability of offers. Does the irruption of a little-known regulatory system in public offers call into question the principle of transparency in public offers? It also calls into question the principle of irrevocability of offers. Does the irruption of a little-known regulatory system in public offers call into question the principle of transparency in public offers? It also calls into question the principle of irrevocability of offers.

b/ Violation of the principle of irrevocability of offers

781. – The principle of irrevocability of offers affects the same requirement as the principle of transparency: that of allowing investors to anticipate. It is laid down by article 231-14 of the General Regulations of the Autorité des marchés financiers. The latter provides that the deposit is made by letter addressed to the financial regulatory authority guaranteeing, under the signature of at least one presenting institution, the content and the irrevocable nature of the commitments made by the initiator.

782. – Here again, this principle applies to participants, and in particular, as indicated in the General Regulations, to the initiator. Similarly, when the doctrine examines the principle of irrevocability in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case, it envisages its challenge with regard to BNP’s double OPE and not with regard to any system whatsoever. of regulation foreign to the law of public offers.

783. – However, the conditional nature of the CECEI’s authorization cannot be without impact on the substance of the principle of irrevocability. Indeed, as we have seen, through this conditional nature, the CECEI transforms the nature of its control. From a priori, this becomes a posteriori. In doing so, if formally, the principle of irrevocability still weighs on the initiator and if, just as formally, the latter is therefore respected, the principle is nevertheless, in essence, undermined. Substantially, the offers are conditioned by obtaining a posteriori an authorization outside the system of regulation of public offers. And, here again, no adjustment has made it possible, in essence, to preserve the substance of these principles.

Also, the meeting of these two regulatory systems is reflected, with regard to the respective principles of each system, by a questioning of the principles intended to ensure the ability of investors to anticipate. The principles of stock market law are also undermined by the questioning of the principles which govern the assessment of the choice of the market.

2/ The questioning of the principles intended to assess the choice of the market

784. – The calling into question of the principles by virtue of which the choice of the market is assessed was illustrated in the criteria used by the CECEI to make its decision regarding the stakes that BNP would hold in Société Générale and in Paribas. Indeed, the CECEI distinguished three hypotheses: majority takeover, minority takeover and simple acquisition of a stake. The first hypothesis does not take on a particular character here. It corresponds to the fact that the Committee had taken note of BNP’s desire to take control of the targets to at least 50.01%. The two following ones are more interesting for our purpose because they testify to a profound autonomy of banking law in the appreciation of the choice of the market.

a/ The attack on traditional methods of assessing minority control

785. – With regard to a minority takeover of a bank, the CECEI decides with regard to the existence of effective power to control the target. However, in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair, the Committee added to this criterion the requirement that it be manifest. This criterion is foreign to the legal qualifications traditionally retained by company law and the CECEI has not made any definition. This silence can be analyzed in several ways. But, in the case of such a derogatory right, this silence pleads for the autonomy of concepts. In our opinion, this autonomy is questionable. Thus, the autonomy of banking law seems real with regard to the criteria for assessing a minority takeover compared to the traditional criteria used in other branches of law.

b/ The attack on the freedom to acquire a simple participation

786. – With regard to simple equity investments, autonomy is here assumed by the CECEI. In a letter dated 16/07/1999, the Governor of the Banque de France indicated that any initiator wishing to retain a minority stake in a credit institution is required to seek its approval and to propose in support of that a clear and concerted solution.

787. – However, such an obligation does not result from any text and seems particularly derogatory to stock market law in which the initiators can certainly specify a waiver threshold beforehand, but where the principle of taking hostile shareholdings is not excluded in self. Such, however, is the scope of the condition laid down by the Committee.

788. – Ce faisant, elle prend une position radicalement opposée à celle de la Cour d’appel de Paris du 17/06/1999 lorsqu’elle a considéré qu’une offre publique hostile n’était pas contraire aux principes directeurs des offres publiques au seul motif que ce serait hostile. Là encore, l’autonomie de l’approche du système de régulation bancaire se traduit par une remise en cause des principes de la régulation boursière.

789. – En conséquence, nous avons démontré que la complexité de la régulation financière repose sur l’existence de différents mécanismes de contrôle conçus indépendamment les uns des autres. Il est donc nécessaire de repenser chaque système de régulation non plus isolément mais dans la perspective d’un ensemble cohérent. Cela rend évidemment souhaitable une modification des contrôles.

Section 3 : L’évolution souhaitée des contrôles

790. – L’architecture actuelle des contrôles doit être réformée (§1). Cette réforme devrait aborder les mécanismes de régulation de manière globale afin que la coordination entre les branches du droit soit effective. Il en résulterait une amélioration de la coordination des contrôles bancaires avec les autres branches du droit (§ 2).

§ 1 : La réforme de l’architecture des contrôles

791. – La réforme des contrôles passe par la création d’un contrôle démocratique des autorités de régulation (A) mais aussi par une réforme structurelle européenne (B). La sécurité bancaire et financière européenne a un prix qui va bien au-delà de l’ajustement marginal des mécanismes de supervision actuels. Réforme en profondeur de la structure, du rôle et des fonctions des régulateurs de la sphère bancaire et financière européenne : tel en est le prix.

A/ La création d’un contrôle démocratique des autorités de régulation

792. – L’indépendance vis-à-vis du pouvoir politique est à la source même du système de régulation financière. Cette indépendance repose sur la méfiance des opérateurs vis-à-vis de toute ingérence gouvernementale, mais elle ne disqualifie aucun lien avec le pouvoir politique. Il ne fait que condamner l’interventionnisme gouvernemental. Il est donc nécessaire de clarifier les incertitudes qui subsistent dans les relations entre les autorités et le gouvernement avant d’envisager pour l’avenir un contrôle politique renouvelé fondé sur la responsabilité politique.

793. – Tout d’abord, l’hypertrophie du pouvoir de décision individuel des collectivités tend à neutraliser le pouvoir réglementaire du ministre des Finances. Les offres publiques des banques ont bien illustré ce point. Lorsque le CECEI exige que « la détention du pouvoir de contrôle » prévu par le règlement n° 96-16 du 20/12/1996 soit « manifeste », il empiète sur la compétence du ministère des Finances. Par ailleurs, le rôle des représentants du ministère des Finances au sein des instances de régulation et notamment le rôle du directeur du Trésor au sein du CECEI doit être clarifié. Ce dernier en est membre de droit. Il a une voix délibérative et le pouvoir de demander l’ajournement des décisions du Comité. Il contribue à donner l’image d’un comité écran où seuls le gouverneur et le ministre auraient réellement le pouvoir de décider. Il conviendrait donc de retirer au Directeur du Trésor la voix délibérative et son pouvoir d’ajournement pour éviter ce type de critiques. Mais au-delà de cette clarification, une nouvelle forme de contrôle démocratique doit être envisagée.

794. – Government control does not exhaust democratic control. On the contrary, this is only one of the possible forms. Indeed, it is traditionally up to Parliament to exercise control over the administration. In France, this takes the form of control of the government by the parliamentary assemblies constituted by the National Assembly and the Senate. We could draw inspiration from this parliamentary control with a view to reforming French financial regulation. This form of political control would have the merit of allowing democratic control while minimizing the risk of interventionism. Indeed, parliamentary control would make it possible to overcome the contradiction between the requirement of democratic control and the discrediting of governmental control of the regulatory authorities.

795. – The law on new economic regulations provides for an embryo of political control and, in so doing, the beginning of a response to the essential questions raised by public banking offers. Provision is made for parliamentary control of all the authorities involved by the two assemblies.

The law made it possible to release from professional secrecy the agents of the financial services or of control of the banking and financial sector, with regard to the rapporteurs of the parliamentary commissions of inquiry. These provisions concern the CECEI, the Banking Commission, the Insurance Control Commission and the Financial Markets Authority.

796. – On aurait pu dès lors espérer que ces dispositions augurent d’une véritable réflexion sur le contrôle démocratique des autorités. Or, il n’en est rien. Celles-ci sont présentées comme des mesures de coordination. Ces dispositions ne sont vouées qu’à délier du secret professionnel les membres des autorités de régulation bancaire et financière dans le cadre de commissions d’enquête parlementaires.

797. – Seule l’affirmation de la responsabilité politique des autorités serait susceptible de rendre des bases solides à ces deux systèmes de régulation. Nous souhaitons donc que le CECEI, la Commission bancaire, la Commission de contrôle des assurances et l’Autorité des marchés financiers soient contrôlés annuellement par les commissions des finances de l’Assemblée Nationale et du Sénat, et ce, de façon systématique. Ce contrôle se ferait sur la base du rapport annuel de chacune des autorités. Ainsi, ces rapports devraient rendre compte de manière précise de l’activité des institutions. Précisons que ce contrôle serait général et ne pourrait constituer une pression sur une décision individuelle.

798. – A défaut de mise en œuvre de cette proposition, il pourrait être effectué une évaluation périodique des autorités de régulation par les offices parlementaires d’évaluation de la législation et des politiques publiques. Ainsi, il serait effectué une mesure de la performance des autorités à s’acquitter de leurs missions compte tenu de leurs moyens.

799. – Au delà de la création d’un contrôle démocratique des autorités de régulation au niveau national, c’est certainement l’ensemble de la structure de contrôle qui doit être repensé au niveau européen.

B/ La voie de la réforme structurelle européenne

800. – La Commission européenne a publié récemment un plan d’action concernant le cadre applicable aux marchés financiers. Dans ce document, elle indique que de nombreux changements doivent être effectués dans le système actuel avant que l’Europe ne puisse prétendre posséder un marché de capitaux unique et homogène. La Commission souligne que la fragmentation des marchés de capitaux devrait être éliminée. Pour réaliser cet objectif, une étude concernant une refonte profonde de la politique poursuivie en matière de marché financier est nécessaire. En effet, l’éparpillement des contrôles des marchés financiers entre une multitude d’institutions nationales amoindrit la transparence et peut être la cause de graves périls en cas de crise.

801. – La mise en place de l’Union économique et monétaire en 1999 a marqué la première étape dans la création d’un marché unique européen des valeurs mobilières. En outre, le secteur bancaire européen est entré dans une phase de consolidation accélérée. Ces concentrations bancaires entraînent des implications pour le marché bancaire dans la Communauté en raison des effets systémiques que pourrait avoir une crise affectant ces établissements importants. Le développement de « champions nationaux », suite à des concentrations, pourrait avoir un effet négatif sur le comportement « coopératif » des autorités de contrôle. Celles-ci pourraient avoir tendance à considérer que ces établissements doivent faire l’objet d’un traitement privilégié parce qu’ils seraient, selon la formule consacrée, « too big to fail ». Les informations pourraient être transmises trop tard aux autres autorités de contrôle afin d’éviter que la communication n’aggrave la situation de l’établissement concerné. Or, la mise en place d’un dispositif de contrôle européen permettrait de prendre les décisions qui s’imposent rapidement. Ainsi, la voie de la réforme structurelle peut être justifiée (1). En outre, cette évolution est possible sans modification du Traité établissant la Communauté européenne (2).

1/ Les justifications de la réforme structurelle

802. – Notre volonté de promouvoir une centralisation des contrôles dans l’Union européenne, nous confronte immanquablement à certaines questions. Il s’agit de justifier ce choix en précisant l’organisation des tâches à centraliser. Effectivement, la délimitation du pouvoir de ces nouvelles autorités de régulation ne fait pas l’objet d’un consensus. Nous allons donc justifier la création d’une Commission européenne des marchés de valeurs mobilières (a) et d’une Commission européenne de contrôle prudentiel (b).

a/ Les justifications concernant la création d’une Commission européenne des marchés de valeurs mobilières

803. – L’introduction de l’euro a permis la création d’un vaste marché de valeurs mobilières libellées en euros. De même, les négociations en vue de l’intégration des Bourses européennes se sont accélérées. Néanmoins, le régime européen reste inchangé. Aux lieu et place d’une autorité centrale à travers laquelle les politiques de base pourraient être formulées et mises en place de manière uniforme, quinze régimes différents demeurent à l’intérieur de l’Union européenne, chacun impliquant des degrés divers de coopération. Ainsi, de nombreuses disparités existent entre les différents régimes européens.

804. – Par ailleurs, les conditions auxquelles sont soumises les entreprises pour financer leurs investissements ainsi que le rôle des intermédiaires financiers continuent à varier considérablement d’un pays à l’autre au sein de l’Union européenne. Ceci s’explique par des différences structurelles profondément enracinées des systèmes juridiques, des degrés différents de développement des marchés et des institutions financières et par le rôle de l’Etat dans chaque pays. Il sera impossible de stimuler une véritable compétition transfrontalière dans l’industrie financière si une autorité centrale de contrôle n’est pas mise en place. Il convient également de rappeler que la Banque centrale européenne ne possède aucune compétence en matière de valeurs mobilières.

805. – Par conséquent, la création d’une Commission européenne des marchés de valeurs mobilières est dans une large mesure inévitable et indispensable. Cet organisme pourrait être une institution indépendante à l’image de l’autorité des marchés financiers en France. Néanmoins, il serait également possible de donner compétence à une direction de la Commission européenne à l’instar de ce qui existe en matière de concurrence avec la DG IV.

806. – La mise en place d’une autorité de tutelle des marchés au niveau européen permettrait de protéger l’intégrité du marché unique. En effet, celle-ci disposerait d’un pouvoir normatif étendu et coordonnerait les actions des autorités nationales. Elle se concentrerait sur la politique d’ensemble et le contrôle des marchés en Europe, tandis que les Bourses et les autorités de tutelle nationales opéreraient toujours leur propre surveillance, notamment en matière d’offre publique. En outre, la création d’une Commission européenne de contrôle prudentiel devient également primordiale avec le développement des concentrations bancaires européennes.

b/ Les justifications concernant la création d’une Commission européenne de contrôle prudentiel

807. – En l’état actuel, l’architecture prudentielle européenne repose sur trois piliers principaux : les autorités de supervision nationales, la coopération multilatérale et l’action de la Commission européenne.

808. – Il convient de s’interroger sur le point de savoir si cette répartition des rôles est bien adaptée à la nouvelle donne du secteur bancaire européen. En effet, dans une phase de consolidation accélérée, la mission européenne dépasse le seul domaine concurrentiel. La doctrine de la Commission européenne des consolidations du secteur bancaire européen, visant à préserver le bien être du consommateur face aux mastodontes bancaires européens, interagit sur le champ d’action des autorités de supervision bancaire. L’action du régulateur et de la Commission européenne peuvent soit se compléter, soit entrer en conflit. Par exemple, la tâche des superviseurs consistant à fixer des marges bancaires de référence rejoint l’action de la Commission européenne. En revanche, superviseurs et Commission européenne peuvent entrer en conflit d’intérêts lorsque les autorités de supervision tentent de préserver la compétitivité des banques et mettent au second plan les problèmes concurrentiels. A notre avis, la création d’une Commission européenne de contrôle prudentiel limiterait ce risque de conflit.

809. – La dottrina economica è divisa sui rispettivi vantaggi di separare l’organo preposto alla politica monetaria e quello oi preposti alla vigilanza prudenziale. Pertanto, il controllo prudenziale potrebbe essere assunto dalla Banca centrale europea. Noi però non siamo favorevoli perché andrebbe oltre le prerogative che gli sono state attribuite. In effetti, la Banca centrale europea ha puntato la sua credibilità su tutto il suo impegno per la stabilità monetaria. Poteva azzardare una contraddizione che rischierebbe di minare la sua già erosa credibilità? Ancora più fondamentalmente, gli Stati temono il suo imperialismo. Concedergli tale potere aggiuntivo sarebbe senza dubbio molto criticato.

810. – Preferiamo quindi proporre la creazione di un’autorità indipendente che unifichi i controlli prudenziali in Europa. A quest’ultimo verrebbe trasferito il potere di rilasciare omologazioni e autorizzazioni di subentro. Essa svilupperebbe così un’unica dottrina sui criteri di omologazione in Europa, che permetterebbe di eliminare le notevoli disparità esistenti nelle diverse legislazioni nazionali. Questa proposta stabilirebbe l’esistenza di una procedura di omologazione europea. Inoltre, potrebbe anche essere incaricata della vigilanza prudenziale degli istituti di credito in Europa. Questi ultimi, infatti, affermandosi progressivamente in tutta Europa, saranno indubbiamente meglio presidiati da un soggetto che avrà prerogative su scala europea e quindi maggiore visibilità. A nostro avviso, la creazione di una Commissione Europea di Vigilanza Prudenziale è senza dubbio la soluzione più efficace nel medio termine. Non richiede necessariamente una fusione di autorità di regolamentazione, ma un raggruppamento sotto lo stesso ombrello di diverse entità.

Poiché la creazione di tali autorità è giustificata, è ora opportuno suggerire una base giuridica per la loro creazione.

2/ La proposta di una base giuridica che consenta la creazione di nuove autorità europee

811. – L’art. 308 del Trattato dispone che «se l’azione della Comunità appare necessaria per il conseguimento, nel funzionamento del Mercato comune, di uno degli scopi della Comunità, senza che il presente Trattato abbia previsto le competenze d’azione necessarie a questo scopo, il Consiglio, deliberando all’unanimità su proposta della Commissione e previa consultazione del Parlamento europeo, adotta le misure opportune”. Questo articolo consente quindi di prendere tutte le misure opportune per realizzare uno degli scopi della Comunità. Occorre pertanto prestare attenzione a comprendere la portata di tale potere nonché i requisiti procedurali e sostanziali imposti dall’articolo 308.

812. – L’oggetto di cui sopra è definito dall’art. 2 del Trattato. Esso prevede che “la Comunità ha il compito di istituire un Mercato comune, di un’Unione economica e monetaria e, mediante l’attuazione delle politiche o azioni comuni di cui agli articoli 3 e 4, di promuovere nell’insieme della Comunità un’armonia, sviluppo equilibrato e sostenibile delle attività economiche, coesione economica e sociale e solidarietà tra gli Stati membri”.

813. – Si può ragionevolmente ritenere che tale finalità giustifichi per la Corte di giustizia delle Comunità europee la creazione di una Commissione europea dei mercati mobiliari e di una Commissione europea di vigilanza prudenziale sulla base di quanto disposto dall’art. 308.

814. – The other condition required by Article 308 consists in showing that the action of the Community appears necessary in order to achieve one of the objects of the Community. The justification for the creation of the new European authorities will thus have to be strongly established because there is a definite difference between an action favoring one of the objectives of the Community and that which is absolutely necessary to achieve it. This last condition is more difficult to fulfill but it is not out of reach. The uniform application of regulations to ensure effective supervision protecting the stability of the banking and financial system is of crucial importance. The creation of European authorities is the only way to achieve these objectives.

815. – L’action en cause doit se montrer « appropriée », condition qui renvoie au principe communautaire de proportionnalité. L’un des objets d’une réglementation efficace des marchés financiers consistant en la prévention d’incidents, il est difficile de prétendre que la mise en place de telles entités ne constituerait pas une décision appropriée en vue de réaliser l’un des objets de la Communauté. Effectivement, il convient de prendre en considération les conséquences sociales, politiques et économiques des dysfonctionnements importants des marchés de valeurs mobilières ainsi que la carence du contrôle prudentiel au niveau européen.

816. – L’utilisation qui a été faite de l’article 308 dans les nombreuses matières où il a permis des avancées constructives pour la Communauté renforce notre conviction. Celui-ci pourrait constituer une base juridique acceptable. En effet, il octroie des pouvoirs législatifs à la Communauté dans des domaines importants pour lesquels elle ne possédait pas de compétences législatives plus précises aux termes du Traité. L’article 308 a été utilisé comme fondement pour justifier la réglementation dans certains domaines de la protection de l’environnement avant que la matière ne soit l’objet de dispositions particulières du Traité. Il a, en outre, permis de faire progresser le droit des sociétés dans des domaines aussi variés que la comptabilité consolidée et les notes d’information d’admission en bourse. Il a également été employé pour instituer les groupements européens d’intérêt économique.

Par conséquent, il existe un fondement juridique permettant la création de ces nouvelles autorités. Pour assurer la sécurité bancaire et financière en Europe, il n’existe pas d’alternative à une véritable réforme structurelle des dispositifs. Cette évolution permettrait la mise en place d’une régulation européenne plus unifiée. Corrélativement, il conviendrait également d’améliorer la coordination des contrôles bancaires avec les différentes branches de droit.

§ 2 : L’amélioration de la coordination des contrôles bancaires avec les différentes branches de droit

817. – Une difficulté majeure se pose : la coordination des différentes branches de droit. En effet, l’application des contrôles bancaires exclut de nombreuses règles juridiques des autres branches de droit. Le droit applicable aux concentrations bancaires laisse donc apparaître un certain nombre d’incertitudes qu’il convient de faire disparaître. Pour réaliser cet objectif, il apparaît nécessaire de coordonner les contrôles bancaires avec les différentes branches de droit dans un objectif de protection du système bancaire et financier. Cette coordination doit s’effectuer au fond (A) mais aussi en ce qui concerne les procédures (B).

A/ The necessary improvement of substantive coordination

818. – It appears necessary to coordinate banking controls, on the one hand, with banking accounting law (1) and on the other hand, with branches of law outside banking law (2).

1/ Coordination between banking controls and banking accounting law
819. – First of all, there is a conflict of definition concerning the notion of control.

820. – The CECEI does not limit the takeover to the acquisition of an absolute majority of voting rights, but envisages, more broadly, the acquisition of the effective power of control.

821. – Banking accounting law, in the Regulation relating to the consolidation of the accounts of credit institutions and financial companies, gives a very precise definition of the notion of control. This definition is given in article 3 of these Regulations. “A company is considered to be exclusively controlled when the parent company holds, directly or indirectly, a capital participation and either the majority of the voting rights, or the power to appoint the majority of the members of the administrative bodies, management or supervision. In the following two cases, the existence of exclusive control is also presumed:

– when there are no other shareholders or associates holding together a stake greater than that of the group and each holding more than 5% of the capital;

– when, in particular, by virtue of a management contract or statutory clauses, a group company exercises a dominant influence therein”.

822. – This definition of control was rejected by the CECEI during the public exchange offer launched by BNP for Société Générale and Paribas. The latter adopted its own conception of the measurement of the effective power of control and considered in this case that a shareholder holding a stake in voting rights less than the blocking minority of one third did not exercise effective power to control.

823. – However, BNP, relying on the definition of the aforementioned Regulation, was “certain to exercise exclusive control over its target”. The latter undoubtedly respected this situation, but the CECEI replied that it was not bound by the rules of the Banking Regulation Committee.

824. – The jurist can only be astonished by such an argument. It is inadmissible that the CECEI does not apply the definitions formulated by the Banking Regulation Committee. Admittedly, under certain conditions, the reasoning according to which special law can set aside common law is likely to be accepted. However, in this hypothesis we are not in the presence of a common right and a special right. The latter should therefore, in the future, apply the definition of exclusive control as it results from Regulation No. 85-12 of 11/27/1985 amended by the aforementioned regulations.

Finally, it would even be desirable for all the legal rules, ie banking controls and all the branches outside banking law, to be coordinated.

2/ Coordination between banking controls and branches of law outside banking law

825. – Coordination between banking controls and contract law (a), company law (b) and stock market law (c) is necessary.

a/ Basic coordination between banking controls and contract law

826. – First of all, a conflict between contract law and banking law is obvious. Indeed, on the basis of common contract law, the parties are free to acquire and sell their shares in a company. Similarly, any company is free to launch a public offer on another company. This offer constitutes a solicitation that the shareholder is theoretically free to accept or refuse. The offeror acquires the securities that are brought to him at the end of the offer. However, the CECEI conditions the authorization of a stake in a bank to the fact that it is accompanied by an agreement between the banks. This requirement stems from the fact that equity investments must be compatible with the proper functioning of the banking system. Thus, in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case, the CECEI refused to allow BNP to take a minority stake in Société Générale on the grounds that the two banks had failed to conclude a strategic agreement. This one considered that the particularly important agitation in the agencies of the target could make fear serious social difficulties. Similarly, the blocking of institutions by general meetings, turning into confrontation between blocks of shareholders in deep disagreement, could raise fears for the proper functioning of the banking system. Consequently, the interest of the establishments was undoubtedly in question and the operation of the banking system was also in view of their size. The comparable profile of the two main banks, BNP and Société Générale, counter banks, could lead one to think that in the long term a merger of the networks would have been inevitable. This would have caused major disturbances within each and probably in the French banking system.

827. – However, such reasoning is dangerous because any equity investment by a French bank risks, in principle, giving rise to economic difficulties, and therefore disrupting the proper functioning of the French banking system.

828. – It would therefore be important for the CECEI to no longer make the acquisition of holdings in a bank conditional on the existence of an agreement between the banks. Indeed, no text of banking law refers to this requirement. Neither Article L. 611-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code nor Article 2 of Regulation No. 96-16 of 12/20/1996 suggests this condition. It is not up to the regulatory authority to provide for such an important condition. This does not create the law, it is to the legislator that this task falls. Thus, the CECEI has taken some margins in relation to the law which cannot satisfy the lawyer and which justify a reversal of the position of this authority. This would remove the infringement of freedom of contract.

Furthermore, a lack of coordination between banking law and company law creates inconsistencies.

b/ Substantive coordination between banking controls and company law

829. – Company law defines the notion of control of a company. However, banking law is in conflict with this definition. The CECEI does not limit the takeover to the acquisition of an absolute majority of voting rights, but envisages, more broadly, the acquisition of the effective power of control. This seems to be due to the concern to assess on a case-by-case basis the reality of the control exercised, including moreover in establishments whose social form is not that of a commercial company. In addition, Article L. 611-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code has clearly established that banking controls apply to transactions carried out indirectly within the meaning of company law.

830. – In order to resolve this conflict of laws, it is necessary to improve the coordination of banking law and company law. The legislator should intervene to coordinate these two branches of law. Regarding the definition of control by Article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code, it is imperfect. Indeed, a company can control a second without directly or indirectly holding a fraction of the capital or voting rights giving it the majority of voting rights in the general meetings of this company. In addition, article L. 233-3-II of the Commercial Code does not provide sufficient details by presuming control when a company directly or indirectly holds a fraction of the voting rights greater than 40% and no other partner or shareholder holds directly or indirectly a fraction greater than its own. The position of the CECEI, which is not limited to the acquisition of the absolute majority of voting rights or even a fraction of 40%, is more realistic. We therefore propose a change in the definition of the concept of control as it results from Article L. 233-3 of the Commercial Code so that it is defined similarly in banking law and company law. The legislator could reform the definition of control in company law by aligning itself with banking accounting law and more specifically with Regulation no. 85-12 of 11/27/1985. Indeed, the definition of the concept of exclusive control is much more precise there. “A company is considered to be exclusively controlled when the parent company holds, directly or indirectly, a capital participation and either the majority of the voting rights, or the power to appoint the majority of the members of the administrative bodies, management or supervision. In the following two cases, the existence of exclusive control is also presumed: “A company is considered to be exclusively controlled when the parent company holds, directly or indirectly, a capital participation and either the majority of the voting rights, or the power to appoint the majority of the members of the administrative bodies, management or supervision. In the following two cases, the existence of exclusive control is also presumed: “A company is considered to be exclusively controlled when the parent company holds, directly or indirectly, a capital participation and either the majority of the voting rights, or the power to appoint the majority of the members of the administrative bodies, management or supervision. In the following two cases, the existence of exclusive control is also presumed:

– when there are no other shareholders or associates holding together a stake greater than that of the group and each holding more than 5% of the capital;

– when, in particular, by virtue of a management contract or statutory clauses, a group company exercises a dominant influence therein”.

831. – This pragmatic definition would imply verification over time. In the context of banking concentrations, this would be carried out by the CECEI. The latter would thus break away from its practice initiated during the public offer of BNP on Société Générale and Paribas.

c/ Basic coordination between banking controls and stock market law

832. – As we have already explained, banking concentrations are subject to supervision under banking law which generally oversees the proper functioning of the banking system and customer security. This provides for the conditions for authorizing equity investments in banks. Stock market law intervenes in favor of the proper functioning of the financial markets. It provides for the conditions of admissibility of public offers and their conduct. In general, it oversees the protection of savings, the quality of investor information, the equality of shareholders, the fairness of transactions, transparency and the proper functioning of financial markets.

833. – The meeting of these two rights appears conflicting. This is a conflict of special rights. In general, the solution of an internal conflict of laws can take only two paths: either one of the laws excludes the other, or both apply; exclusive application in the first case; cumulative or distributive application in the second. The first solution, the exclusive application of one law to the detriment of another can be recommended from the traditional rule “Specialia…”. It could be admitted that, while being a special law, stock exchange law is the general law of public offers and that banking law is the special law for banks, so that the second would impose itself on the first. But this way of settlement would be unacceptable because it would amount to ruling out the application of stock market law. The second solution, preferable, is duplicated. Either, it is a question of a cumulative application of the two laws, which in this case is not possible, because they would have to be intended to apply to the same elements taken from the same angle, this which can only be imagined about a conflict of laws in time. Either it is a distributive application, the two laws each applying to a different aspect of the situation in question, which is the case in public banking offers, where on the one hand there is a particular operation, a public offer, on the other a particular object, a bank. Only the latter solution is applicable here. In this way, each law applies in its own sphere, which allows a certain reconciliation of the two rights. But the result is that the most demanding turns out to be dominating. In the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas case, the competent stock market authority did not rule on the merits of the case, ie on the validity of the equity investment, but on its formal aspect, ie procedural. However, the authority responsible for implementing banking law took the decision for substantial reasons. Stock market law, the law governing the proper functioning of financial markets, was properly applied and led the competent authority to ratify the result of the operation because it noted that the tender procedure had been properly conducted. On the other hand, banking law, law for the proper functioning of the banking system, the law governing the proper functioning of financial markets, was properly applied and led the competent authority to ratify the result of the operation because it noted that the tender procedure had been properly conducted. On the other hand, banking law, law for the proper functioning of the banking system, the law governing the proper functioning of financial markets, was properly applied and led the competent authority to ratify the result of the operation because it noted that the tender procedure had been properly conducted. On the other hand, banking law, law for the proper functioning of the banking system,

834. – Thus, banking law and stock market law may come into conflict. But this confrontation could be mitigated if the banking authority and the financial authority softened their respective positions. For example, in the BNP/Société Générale/Paribas affair, the decision of the financial regulatory authority, although justified in law, appeared particularly free-trader. The assessment of the determinable nature of the double public offer is eloquent in this respect. If the arguments of the target banks were dismissed, it was because they disregarded the legal fiction of the legal personality of the initiating company. The subject of the offer relates to transferable securities and not to their counterpart in terms of assets. This reasoning is, as we have seen, founded. However, it should be noted that the financial regulatory authority could have taken a more nuanced decision. The situation before him was particularly complex. We can first note that if the object was legally determined, the economic indeterminacy was great. To use Madame Frison-Roche’s terminology, if the object was certain, it was very imprecise. In addition, it can also be noted that the assessment of the specific nature of the offers is made at the cost of a very flexible, if not neutralizing, reading of articles 1108 and 1129 of the Civil Code relating to the determination of the subject of the CONTRACT. Moreover, with regard to the principle of transparency, as noted by the applicants, “uncertainty cannot be dispelled by announcing it”. This highlights the free trade orientation of the financial regulator. The latter could adopt a less clear-cut position which is less in contradiction with that of the banking authority.

835. – On the other hand, the decisions of the CECEI are deeply imbued with the protectionist logic of banking regulation. Indeed, they demonstrate great rigor and great caution. As we have already specified, with regard to the takeover, the CECEI imposes ex nihilo a majority takeover and, failing that, conditions its agreement on the “manifest” nature of this power. Next, with regard to the acquisition of minority interests, the Committee subjects them to certain conditions. One can therefore question the validity of these requirements. The positions of the CECEI could be relaxed in order to better reconcile with the decisions of the stock market authorities.

836. – Beyond this tentative coordination, thanks to a relaxation of the respective positions of the authorities, a coordination of the two rights could be partially achieved. To carry out this coordination between the stock market and banking authority, it is necessary to highlight their complementarity. These aim to achieve one objective: the protection of the banking and financial system.

837. – This beginning of coordination could be obtained thanks to the removal of the attack on the principle of transparency of which banking law is at the origin. Indeed, we have highlighted the intervention of the banking regulation process alongside stock market law. This one is quite obscure which prevents investors from acting in full knowledge of the facts. The solution could be provided by the CECEI. The latter could make its assessment criteria public. Admittedly, it currently publishes an annual report which explains the criteria it uses. However, this report remains too imprecise. It is in the direction of a detailed publication of all the criteria used that the Committee must move. But the best solution would be legislative or regulatory intervention. Indeed, on the one hand, it is not clear that the Committee makes this publication. On the other hand, even if such a clarification were carried out by the regulatory authority, it would remain legally fragile. This is why legislative or regulatory intervention would be of greater interest. This would make it possible to define more rigorously the legal notions and to fix more precisely the criteria of banking supervision. In addition, the areas of banking and stock exchange controls would be specified as well as their substantive objectives. Finally, this intervention would be an opportunity to rethink each regulatory system no longer in isolation but on the contrary from the perspective of a coherent whole. In our opinion, this is the only possible way to clarify the “maquis” of banking and stock market regulations. In effect,

838. – Il en résulterait une protection plus efficiente du système bancaire et financier. Incontestablement, aujourd’hui, le système bancaire fait l’objet d’une protection plus importante comparativement à d’autres secteurs économiques. Cependant, les conflits de contrôle engendrent une instabilité préjudiciable à l’efficacité du contrôle. Cette réforme devrait être logiquement accompagnée d’une modification des règles de procédures prévoyant la coordination des différents contrôles.

B/ La nécessaire amélioration de la coordination des procédures de contrôle

839. – L’amélioration de la coordination des procédures bancaires et boursières (1), ainsi que des procédures bancaires, boursières et concurrentielles (2), doit être réalisée.

1/ L’amélioration de la coordination des procédures bancaires et boursières

840. – Comme nous l’avons déjà précisé, les offres publiques bancaires sont soumises à l’autorisation préalable du CECEI. En effet, l’article 231-30 du Règlement général de l’Autorité des marchés financiers dispose que l’offre publique est ouverte après la publication de la note d’information ayant reçu un visa et après réception par l’autorité de régulation financière, le cas échéant, des autorisations préalables requises par la législation en vigueur. Le projet déposé auprès de l’autorité de régulation financière et publié par celle-ci ouvre la période d’offre. Cependant, la période d’offre proprement dite, qui fait courir ce que la pratique appelle avec beaucoup d’ambiguïté la « durée de l’offre », est suspendue en attendant l’obtention de l’autorisation.

841. – Le problème fondamental est que l’autorité bancaire dispose d’un délai de trois mois pour autoriser une prise de contrôle. La fixation d’un délai préfixe n’est pas en soi contestable. Néanmoins, ce délai est trop long. Lors de l’offre publique du Crédit Agricole sur le Crédit Lyonnais, le CECEI a mis près de trois mois pour donner son autorisation. Ainsi, l’ouverture de l’offre boursière a été retardée durant de long mois. Certains auteurs ont donc été très critiques considérant que cette procédure d’autorisation était peu adaptée à la vie des marchés et les lenteurs de l’autorité prudentielle ont été vivement dénigrées. A notre avis, il conviendrait de réduire le délai de contrôle du CECEI. Cette réforme est d’une importance primordiale afin que la suspension de l’offre publique à l’autorisation bancaire n’allonge pas excessivement la durée de la concentration bancaire.

842. – En outre, le CECEI doit délivrer une autorisation spéciale pour chaque nouvelle offre. Ceci retarde considérablement la procédure d’offre publique bancaire. Afin de résoudre ce problème, il conviendrait de modifier le droit bancaire. Il pourrait être prévu que le CECEI autorise préalablement les offres publiques. Dans l’hypothèse de dépôts de nouvelles offres, telles que des surenchères, ne modifiant pas substantiellement l’offre initiale, celle-ci demeurerait valable. Le CECEI pourrait, dans le cadre de sa première autorisation préalable, fixer une fourchette à l’intérieur de laquelle le relèvement de l’offre ne nécessiterait pas une nouvelle autorisation. Les banques qui respecteraient cette marge, dans le cadre de leurs surenchères, bénéficieraient ainsi d’une dispense d’autorisation. Cette réforme contribuerait à limiter le nombre d’interventions de l’autorité de régulation bancaire et engendrerait un raccourcissement de la durée globale de la procédure.

843. – Finally, a final problem arises concerning the pronouncement of the final decision. It would be relevant for the legislator to provide that the banking authority must render its decision within a week of the publication by the financial regulatory authority of the provisional result of the offer. Thus, the final decisions would be revealed with certainty very close to the publication of the provisional results of the offers. This reform would allow for greater legal predictability. Indeed, currently, no such delay is intended. The banking authority may therefore delay in making its final decision. For example, in the BNP/Societe Generale/Paribas affair, the provisional results were published on 08/14/1999, while the final decision of the CECEI was only made on 08/28/1999. These procedural changes would result in a more harmonious coordination of banking and stock market procedures. This reinforced coordination must also be proposed with regard to banking and stock market procedures in relation to the competitive procedure.

2/ Improving the coordination of banking and stock market procedures with competition law

844. – Any competition disputes can constitute a means of defense for the target bank and the initiator takes risks. Indeed, competitive procedures are proving difficult to combine with banking and stock market procedures. Consequently, poor coordination between these checks can be observed. Provision should therefore be made for coordination of banking, stock market and competition procedures in domestic law (a) as well as in Community law (b).

a/ Improving coordination in domestic law

845. – Since the adoption of the financial security law, the calendar of deliberations of the CECEI has changed. This law provided for a link between competition control and prudential regulation. When the CECEI considers that the operation does not present any competitive aspects likely to have an impact on its own decision, it may decide before the competition authorities. Otherwise, he is free to await the decision of the competition authorities. This provision is consistent because the decision of the Minister of the Economy can indeed modify the perimeter of the future establishment and therefore the prudential data. This measure is fundamental because it makes it possible to avoid an excessive lengthening of control procedures when this is not necessary. However, in our opinion, the text of the law is not precise enough. Indeed, it leaves full latitude to the banking authority to await the decision of the competition authorities. However, the deadline for the competition procedure can be between five weeks from the filing of the complete notification file and can reach almost seven months depending on whether or not the opinion of the Competition Council is required. In the event that the CECEI decides to wait for the decision of the competition authorities, the period for monitoring the operation could reach ten months. Undoubtedly, the superimposition of the various controls could thus lead to an excessive lengthening of the procedures, which is difficult to reconcile with business life. Tuttavia, un perfetto coordinamento delle due procedure sembra impossibile. In effetti, la decisione competitiva può avere conseguenze strutturali. “Tuttavia, è solo quando saranno noti tutti i dettagli dell’operazione che la CECEI potrà realmente apprezzare l’impatto dello sconvolgimento strutturale sul funzionamento del settore bancario e sulla salute finanziaria dell’entità derivante dall’operazione di concentrazione”. Infatti, le misure di concorrenza possono incidere sulla struttura del sistema bancario, così come le misure volte a preservare la struttura del sistema bancario possono incidere sulla concorrenza.solo conoscendo tutti i dati dell’operazione la CECEI potrà realmente apprezzare l’impatto dello sconvolgimento strutturale sul funzionamento del settore bancario e sulla salute finanziaria dell’entità risultante dall’operazione di concentrazione”. Infatti, le misure di concorrenza possono incidere sulla struttura del sistema bancario, così come le misure volte a preservare la struttura del sistema bancario possono incidere sulla concorrenza. solo conoscendo tutti i dati dell’operazione la CECEI potrà realmente apprezzare l’impatto dello sconvolgimento strutturale sul funzionamento del settore bancario e sulla salute finanziaria dell’entità risultante dall’operazione di concentrazione”.Infatti, le misure di concorrenza possono incidere sulla struttura del sistema bancario, così come le misure volte a preservare la struttura del sistema bancario possono incidere sulla concorrenza.

846. – Questo delicato coordinamento tra procedura bancaria e procedura concorsuale evidenzia il rischio assunto dall’iniziatore quando si concentra. Una volta pubblicato l’esito dell’offerta pubblica, il Ministro dell’Economia potrebbe intimargli di non procedere all’acquisizione della società target o di cedere alcuni beni essenziali della società target. Inoltre, la CECEI potrebbe decidere di non autorizzare l’operazione.

847. – Tuttavia, a nostro avviso, questo ostacolo alle fusioni sembra essere stato in parte rimosso. Infatti, la CECEI non concede più l’autorizzazione all’acquisizione dinanzi all’autorità garante della concorrenza quando vengono sollevate questioni di concorrenza. Inoltre, il decreto del 15/11/2002 ha introdotto la possibilità per il promotore di un’offerta pubblica di acquisto o di un’offerta pubblica di subordinare la propria offerta pubblica all’approvazione delle autorità garanti della concorrenza. Secondo tale testo, “se il progetto di offerta pubblica è oggetto, sotto il controllo delle concentrazioni, di una notifica (…) al Ministro dell’Economia (…), il promotore di tale offerta può prevedere una condizione sospensiva per ottenendo (…) l’autorizzazione prevista dall’articolo L.

848. – Essendo il procedimento di autorizzazione da parte delle autorità garanti della concorrenza duplice, occorre distinguere se l’autorizzazione è concessa durante la fase I o se le autorità garanti della concorrenza decidono di avviare un procedimento di fase II. Se l’autorizzazione viene concessa durante la fase I, non essendosi verificato l’evento futuro ed incerto suscettibile di svincolare il proponente dai propri impegni, l’offerta proseguirà il suo corso fino alla data di chiusura dalla conferma dell’autorizzazione competitiva. Se, invece, l’esame dell’operazione conduce alla conclusione che essa “è suscettibile di nuocere alla concorrenza e che gli impegni assunti non sono sufficienti a porvi rimedio”, l’apertura della fase II porta al compimento della condizione sospensiva. Pertanto, l’iniziatore è liberato dai suoi impegni. Poiché l’offerta è scaduta, l’iniziatore non corre più il rischio di dover acquistare i titoli ed eventualmente di doversene separare a condizioni sfavorevoli. Se quest’ultima decide di proseguire l’operazione di concentrazione, deve presentare una nuova offerta pubblica alle autorità di borsa. La logica vuole che questa nuova offerta venga depositata al termine della fase II, solo dopo che le autorità garanti della concorrenza avranno dato il via libera all’operazione di concentrazione. Tale soluzione sembra essere l’unica compatibile con l’obiettivo assegnato al meccanismo, che è quello di ritardare la consegna dei titoli offerti in adesione al fine di evitare ogni dannoso decentramento. Pertanto, il nuovo sistema tiene conto dell’impatto del controllo della concorrenza delle concentrazioni nella fase di borsa dell’operazione.

849. – Nevertheless, major problems continue to arise. Indeed, although competition law and securities law now seem better coordinated, several uncertainties remain.

850. – First of all, the examination period remains too long as regards the competitive procedure. Admittedly, the law on new economic regulations has reduced these control times. However, these can be between five weeks from the filing of the complete notification file and can reach almost seven months depending on whether or not the opinion of the Competition Council is required.

851. – In addition, the banking authority may rule after the competition authority within three months.

852. – Finally, while the initiator of a takeover bid or a public offer has the option of making his public offer conditional on the approval of the competition authorities, the same is not true with regard to the decision of the banking regulatory authority. In other words, the offer cannot be linked to the authorization of the CECEI.

853. – To resolve these problems, it is appropriate to make certain proposals for the development of the law.

854. – The legislator could further reduce the period for review by the competition authorities. This reform is of paramount importance so that the mechanism making it possible to condition the public offer on the competitive decision does not excessively lengthen the duration of such operations.

855. – In addition, legislative criteria should specify the notion of concentration involving competitive aspects likely to have an impact on the decision of the banking authority. Thus, such clarification would make it possible to circumscribe the cases in which the CECEI could rule after the competition authority.

856. – Furthermore, provision should be made for the link between banking, stock market and competition controls. Thus, it would be desirable for the legislator to authorize the initiator to condition a public banking offer on the authorization of the CECEI. The authorization of the CECEI should be conditional on the authorization of the competition authorities. These reforms would allow better coordination of the three levels of regulation.

857. – Enfin, corrélativement, un dernier problème de coordination devrait être résolu dans l’hypothèse d’une offre publique bancaire. Depuis l’adoption de la loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques, l’article L. 430-3 du Code de commerce opère désormais un lien entre la notion d’ « opération de concentration » et les procédures d’offres publiques. Effectivement, la publication d’une offre d’achat ou d’échange ou l’acquisition d’une participation de contrôle donnent lieu à notification au ministre de l’Economie. Cette notification doit intervenir concomitamment au dépôt de l’offre. Dans la mesure où l’opération de concentration ne peut intervenir qu’après l’accord du ministre de l’Economie, il est prévu la possibilité pour les parties, « en cas de nécessité particulière dûment motivée », de demander au ministre une dérogation. Cette dernière leur permet de procéder à la réalisation effective de la concentration sans attendre la décision du ministre. La rédaction du texte de loi présente l’inconvénient de rendre non-automatique l’obtention de la dérogation. Le décret d’application de la loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques a résolu la difficulté. Il a prévu que le transfert des titres dès la fin de l’offre, en cas de succès de celle-ci, ne vaut pas réalisation effective de la concentration, tant que les droits de vote attachés à ces titres ne sont pas exercés.

Bien évidemment, un problème de coordination de ces mesures avec la procédure bancaire pourrait se poser. Le droit bancaire devrait envisager une coordination en prévoyant que les dispositions du décret d’application de la loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques sont applicables aux établissements de crédit. Cette mesure ne serait pas attentatoire à l’effectivité de l’autorisation bancaire. En effet, il convient de rappeler que le décret précité ne permet pas la réalisation effective de la concentration, celle-ci étant juridiquement retardée.

Par conséquent, la coordination des contrôles bancaire, boursier et concurrentiel français devra certainement évoluer. Il en est de même en droit communautaire.

b/ L’amélioration de la coordination en droit communautaire

858. – Il convient de préciser qu’en droit communautaire, le contrôle concurrentiel des concentrations est incontestablement applicable aux établissements de crédit.

859. – Les rédacteurs du Règlement CE n° 139/2004 du 20/01/2004, conscients de l’impératif de rapidité qui s’impose à l’initiateur d’une offre, ont choisi de ne pas exiger la suspension de l’offre publique pendant la durée d’examen de l’opération.

860. – L’arrêté du 15/11/2002 s’applique aux opérations de concentrations soumises au droit communautaire. Rappelons que ce dernier édicte que si le projet d’offre publique fait l’objet, au titre du contrôle des concentrations, d’une notification à la Commission européenne, l’initiateur de cette offre peut y stipuler une condition suspensive d’obtention de la décision prévue à l’article 6 § 1 a) ou b) du Règlement CE n°139/2004 du 20/01/2004. L’offre est caduque dès lors que l’opération fait l’objet de l’engagement de procédure de l’article 6 § 1 c) du Règlement CE n° 139/2004.

861. – Nous avons proposé la réduction des délais d’examen en droit interne de la concurrence. Le droit communautaire devrait donc être modifié de façon similaire au droit national afin qu’il n’y ait aucune disparité entre les deux ordres juridiques.

862. – En outre, le Règlement CE du 20/01/2004 énonce que le sursis à la réalisation de la concentration ne fait pas « obstacle à la réalisation d’une offre publique d’achat ou d’échange » qui a été notifiée à la Commission. L’acquéreur ne doit pas exercer les droits de vote attachés aux participations concernées ou ne les exercer qu’en vue de sauvegarder la pleine valeur de son investissement et sur la base d’une dérogation octroyée par la Commission. Ainsi, l’entreprise ayant notifié à la Commission une offre publique, peut nonobstant la suspension acquérir des titres sur le marché. Cependant, les rédacteurs ont voulu éviter que l’initiateur de l’offre n’engage des changements irréversibles dans la société cible avant que la Commission ne se prononce définitivement. Si l’offre publique peut se dérouler, son auteur ne peut pas profiter de son investissement tant que la Commission n’a pas rendu sa décision de compatibilité ou d’incompatibilité. Il est donc démuni de la maîtrise de la société qui constitue l’élément substantiel de l’opération. De manière similaire à la proposition effectuée pour le droit interne, il faudrait que les contrôles bancaires, boursiers et concurrentiels soient liés. Il conviendrait de valider cette disposition pour les établissements de crédit. Ceci supprimerait toute ambiguïté sur l’applicabilité de ces dispositions aux banques et permettrait une coordination harmonieuse entre les procédures bancaires, boursières et concurrentielles.

Conclusion du Titre 2 :

863. – Nous avons démontré que le législateur ainsi que les autorités de régulation ont bâti un édifice particulièrement riche de mécanismes divers pour contrôler le système bancaire et financier avec un maximum d’efficacité. Cette action est fondée sur les agréments bancaires, les autorisations préalables, les enquêtes, injonctions, sanctions, décisions, communiqués alternatifs aux décisions formelles, prises de positions publiques, décisions unilatérales négociées, contrats…

864. – Cette variété permet aux autorités de mener une action adaptée à la pluralité des situations qu’elles sont amenées à rencontrer. Néanmoins, cette liberté prise avec les catégories juridiques classiques n’est pas sans susciter certaines interrogations notamment eu égard au principe de la légalité.

865. – Les autorités veulent ainsi éviter la réalisation d’un risque systémique. Incontestablement, l’objectif premier est la protection du système bancaire et financier.

866. – Cependant, les différentes branches de droit et corrélativement les contrôles effectués par les autorités manquent de coordination. Nous proposons donc des solutions qui consistent à renforcer la coordination des branches de droit afin de créer un droit de la régulation bancaire et financier plus unifié et plus cohérent. Les mutations doivent se réaliser au niveau européen et national. Dans le cadre de l’édification du marché financier européen, nous souhaitons que soient créées des autorités européennes. Nous avons démontré que cette évolution paraît désormais nécessaire pour permettre un contrôle plus efficient. Enfin, les contrôles bancaires doivent mieux se coordonner avec les autres branches de droit, notamment, le droit des contrats, le droit des sociétés, le droit boursier et le droit de la concurrence.

Conclusion de la Première partie

867. – Nous avons mis en exergue l’existence d’une spécificité bancaire et financière dans l’appréhension juridique des fusions-acquisitions bancaires.

868. – Cette spécificité est prise en compte dans les instruments de concentration. Par exemple, le droit bancaire ne se réfère pas à la définition du contrôle existant en droit des sociétés. Concernant l’acquisition de contrôle d’une banque, le CECEI se prononce au regard de la détention manifeste d’un pouvoir effectif de contrôle. Or, ce critère est étranger aux qualifications juridiques traditionnellement retenues par le droit des sociétés. Ainsi, l’autonomie du droit bancaire est réelle s’agissant des critères d’appréciation d’une prise de contrôle par rapport aux critères retenus dans les autres branches de droit.

869. – In addition, banking specificity is materialized by the existence of controls specific to banks. In the event of a bank merger, the CECEI must give approval. The conditions for approval are set out in Articles L. 511-10 to L. 511-13 of the Monetary and Financial Code. In the context of a takeover of a bank, a prior authorization system is organized by article L. 611-1 of the Monetary and Financial Code. The latter gave competence to the Minister of the Economy to set the conditions under which participations can be taken in credit establishments. The Regulation of 20/12/1996 therefore provided for prior authorization from the CECEI for any significant change in the composition of capital contributors in order to protect the banking system.

870. – Enfin, la spécificité de l’appréhension juridique des concentrations bancaires se matérialise également par la délicate coordination entre le droit bancaire et les autres branches de droit, notamment le droit de la concurrence. Néanmoins, ce dernier n’ayant pas pour objectif la protection du système bancaire et financier, nous allons démontrer un recul progressif de la spécificité bancaire.

Deuxième partie : Le recul progressif de la spécificité bancaire

871. – Nous avons démontré l’existence de règles et de contrôles spécifiques aux concentrations bancaires. Ces dispositions spécifiques sont justifiées par la protection du système bancaire et financier.

872. – Or, à notre avis, le droit de la régulation bancaire et financière doit être d’emblée distingué du droit de la concurrence. Incontestablement, il s’agit d’un droit sectoriel par opposition à la régulation concurrentielle non sectorielle, même si l’importance de la concurrence est prise en considération.

Par conséquent, il existe bien une différence fondamentale entre ces deux droits. Le droit de la régulation bancaire et financière a pour vocation de protéger l’équilibre du système bancaire et financier. Le rôle du droit de la concurrence est de préserver la concurrence et pas de construire l’équilibre du secteur. Ainsi, s’il est incontestable que ce dernier a aussi une vocation protectrice, ses objectifs sont différents car ce contrôle vise uniquement à empêcher la création ou le renforcement d’une position dominante sur un marché.

873. – Un problème majeur doit être mis en exergue. Il est délicat de définir avec exactitude les dispositions qui ont pour objectif la protection du système bancaire. En effet, les représentants de la profession bancaire ont toujours exacerbé l’existence d’un risque systémique. Ce dernier rendrait globalement inapproprié l’application des règles de droit commun. Néanmoins, à notre avis, les règles prudentielles suffisent pour protéger efficacement le système bancaire. Il ne faut pas créer une confusion générale en adoptant une analyse trop simpliste. En réalité, il semble que l’invocation du risque systémique par le lobbying bancaire soit une stratégie pour tenter d’exonérer les établissements de crédit de certaines dispositions juridiques, tel que le droit de la concurrence.

874. – Consequently, differences of opinion may exist in the field of banking specificity. Some authors therefore consider that the banking activity has a preponderant place in the monetary policy of the country. They conclude that it should not be subject to competition law or at least that the latter should provide specific protection.

875. – Cette argumentation doit être écartée. En effet, nous avons démontré que l’adaptation des contrôles au particularisme du système bancaire n’est légitime que lorsqu’il s’agit intrinsèquement d’assurer la sécurité et le bon fonctionnement du système bancaire et financier. Or, le but principal du droit de la concurrence est d’en sauvegarder l’objet et non de protéger un secteur spécifique. La protection du système bancaire n’étant plus concernée au premier chef, le droit « commun » de la concurrence devrait s’appliquer pleinement. Pourtant, des spécificités bancaires ont été introduites en droit de la concurrence. Leur contestation a entraîné un recul progressif de la spécificité du contrôle en droit de la concurrence (titre 1). Concernant, les règles régissant les effets des concentrations bancaires, une hésitation peut aussi être émise quant à l’existence de spécificités bancaires. Pourtant, à notre avis, la spécificité bancaire doit être exclue (titre 2). D’une part, les concentrations bancaires sont déjà soumises à des règles et des contrôles spécifiques dans la phase de réalisation de l’opération, dans un objectif de protection du système bancaire et financier. Une fois ces contrôles réalisés, les mécanismes classiques régissant les effets des concentrations peuvent s’appliquer. D’autre part, les règles régissant les effets des concentrations bancaires sur les travailleurs ne font pas l’objet de spécificité. En effet, dans cette situation, le système bancaire n’est pas en danger. C’est une autre logique qui s’impose dont l’objectif premier est la protection du travailleur.

Titre 1 : Le recul progressif de la spécificité du contrôle en droit de la concurrence

876. – Aujourd’hui, pour une grande majorité, libérées de la tutelle de l’Etat, les banques doivent trouver un équilibre dans un marché international concurrentiel. Ici se trouve la controverse, car s’il existe une libre concurrence au niveau international, « la concurrence tue la concurrence ». Il semble que les banques soient aspirées dans une logique de concentration. Or, ces opérations se font de plus en plus entre des colosses, et les petites entités risquent d’être emportées dans la tourmente, ce qui accrédite la thèse que l’auto-régulation est impossible.

877. – Il est important de préciser que l’augmentation des parts de marché qui résultent des fusions et des prises de contrôle au sein d’un même marché, sont susceptibles de faire naître une position dominante d’abord sur un marché local, puis national voire européen. Ainsi, la fusion Banca Intesa et Comit en Italie a été autorisée au mois de décembre 1999, mais sous conditions. La concentration a été acceptée sous réserve que Banca Intesa se défasse dans un délai d’un an de 45 guichets sur les plus de 3800 de son réseau. Il a donc été évité, dans certaines zones territoriales, la constitution de positions dominantes dans la collecte et la distribution de fonds ainsi que dans la gestion de patrimoine.

Effectivement, en cas de positions dominantes de banques sur des marchés concentrés, une fusion peut renforcer cette position et entraîner un comportement préjudiciable à la concurrence. La fixation de prix défavorables à la clientèle et les restrictions quantitatives ou qualitatives des services offerts au public peuvent en constituer une illustration. L’application de cette analyse aux banques de dépôt laisse entendre que plus la part de marché de la banque sur les dépôts et les prêts est grande, plus la marge d’intermédiation est élevée. Plus précisément, cela signifie que dans une situation de faible concurrence, chaque banque aura tendance à utiliser son pouvoir de marché pour augmenter les taux sur les prêts et diminuer les taux sur les emprunts.

878. – Par conséquent, le contrôle concurrentiel des concentrations bancaires est nécessaire car le renforcement du phénomène de concentration peut entraîner des atteintes à la concurrence. Ce contrôle vise à empêcher la création ou le renforcement d’une position dominante. Ainsi, il est délicat à mettre en œuvre car l’évaluation de la position dominante se projette dans l’avenir. L’autorité de contrôle doit estimer les effets probables de la concentration sur le marché en cause dans un délai de deux à trois ans. Le temps pertinent est donc le futur, ce qui implique une anticipation des effets d’une opération sur le marché.

879. – En Europe, à l’origine, il fut considéré que l’activité bancaire ne devait pas être soumise au droit de la concurrence. En effet, il était affirmé que participant à la politique monétaire du pays, elle répondait à une mission de service public. L’arrêt Zuchner mit fin à cette controverse en refusant de retenir que les banques géraient un service d’intérêt économique général en vertu d’un acte de la puissance publique. Par conséquent, l’application du droit de la concurrence s’est peu à peu affirmée. Progressivement, la concentration est devenue importante car la création d’un marché bancaire unique a engendré une libre concurrence sur l’ensemble du territoire européen.

880. – Le Règlement CEE n° 4064/89 du 21/12/1989 remplacé par le Règlement CE n° 139/2004 du 20/01/2004 a donc instauré un contrôle des concentrations de dimension communautaire. Il a expressément prévu son application aux établissements de crédit.

881. – La spécificité du contrôle des concentrations bancaires s’est exprimée à plusieurs reprises dans le texte du Règlement CEE du 21/12/1989. Par exemple, le Règlement ne faisait pas référence, dans la définition des seuils de compétence communautaire, pour les établissements de crédit, au chiffre d’affaires. Cette spécificité bancaire a été vigoureusement critiquée par la doctrine car elle créait des ambiguïtés. Le Règlement CE n° 1310/97 du 30/06/1997 a supprimé cette spécificité incohérente. Désormais, la dimension communautaire se calcule à partir du produit bancaire, mais certaines questions fondamentales se posent encore. L’atomisation passée du marché bancaire a eu pour conséquence que la Commission n’a pas pris le soin de délimiter les marchés bancaires de référence dans ses premières décisions. Cette attitude pouvait laisser penser qu’il s’agissait d’une spécificité propre au contrôle des concentrations bancaires. Cependant, suite au vaste mouvement de concentration de cette fin de millénaire, la Commission délimite désormais les marchés de référence avec une précision de plus en plus affinée, de manière analogue aux autres secteurs de l’économie.

882. – En France, les règles du titre III du Code de commerce, « De la concentration économique » ont vocation à s’appliquer en matière de contrôle des concentrations, pour l’ensemble des produits et services. Pour le secteur bancaire, la question de l’applicabilité des règles de droit commun du contrôle des concentrations a longtemps été controversée. En effet, antérieurement à l’adoption de la loi de sécurité financière, l’article L. 511-4 du Code monétaire et financier, se contentait d’affirmer que la sanction des comportements anticoncurrentiels s’appliquait aux établissements de crédit. Désormais, les dispositions du droit commun de la concurrence s’appliquent sans aucune ambiguïté aux concentrations bancaires.

883. – Par conséquent, le contrôle concurrentiel de la puissance économique des opérateurs a présenté quelques spécificités propres aux concentrations bancaires. Néanmoins, un recul progressif de l’originalité du contrôle semble pouvoir être constaté en droit communautaire de la concurrence (chapitre 1) mais aussi en droit interne de la concurrence (chapitre 2).

Chapitre 1 : Le recul progressif de l’originalité en droit communautaire de la concurrence

884. – Au niveau communautaire, le Règlement relatif au contrôle des concentrations entre entreprises était annoncé comme l’instrument qui devait compléter le dispositif du Traité relatif à la concurrence. En effet, les articles 85 et 86 ne visaient que les pratiques restrictives et abusives. Ainsi, lorsqu’une opération de concentration était de nature à affecter la concurrence entre les Etats membres, elle était jugée à l’aune de l’article 85 du Traité de Rome relatif aux ententes ou à celle de l’article 86 relatif aux abus de position dominante, au motif que l’opération était de nature à supprimer toute concurrence sur un marché donné. Cela ne paraissait pas suffisant. Ainsi, il a été envisagé de donner pouvoir à la Commission européenne de contrôler les opérations de concentration projetées par les entreprises. Après de difficiles négociations, le Règlement fut enfin adopté sous présidence française.

885. – A priori control is established. The Regulations contain the rules relating to the organization and the control procedure. Each proposed concentration with a Community dimension must be notified to the Commission so that it can render a decision on “the compatibility of the operation with the common market”. The operation envisaged by the companies cannot be carried out before this notification. A favorable decision must be made as soon as there is no longer any serious doubt about the compatibility of the operation. This formula means that negotiations will take place with the operators, until the moment when the Commission can affirm that there are no longer any serious doubts. Thus, its control is negotiated.

886. – Néanmoins, les décisions rendues par la Commission peuvent faire l’objet d’un recours devant le Tribunal de première instance, puis devant la Cour de justice des Communautés Européennes. En pratique, jusqu’en 2002, les recours devant le Tribunal de première instance ou devant la Cour de justice des Communautés Européennes ont été insignifiants. Le délai de la procédure contentieuse était jugé trop long au regard de la pratique des concentrations. Par conséquent, le 01/02/2001, une procédure accélérée a été mise en place par le Tribunal de première instance des Communautés Européennes. Cette dernière a permis la mise en œuvre d’un contrôle juridictionnel plus rapide et donc plus efficace des décisions de la Commission.

887. – Les questions institutionnelles qui ont été soulevées par le Règlement communautaire du contrôle des concentrations ont concerné principalement, la procédure, la collaboration avec les Etats membres et son champ d’application.

888. – The notification procedure, for its part, raises an important problem: the excessive complexity of the questionnaires. Thus, the Commission wished to resolve this difficulty by adopting a simplified procedure for dealing with certain concentration operations. A Communication from the Commission published on 05/03/2005 provides for a simplified procedure for dealing with concentration operations which do not raise competition problems. Joint ventures which have no or few activities in the European Economic Area and concentrations between parties which are not present on the same markets or on markets situated upstream or downstream of the markets on which the other parts are active. Besides, this concerns concentrations between parties whose markets overlap only slightly or between whom there is a limited upstream-downstream relationship. It should be noted that the Communication provides that the Commission can always waive the simplified procedure. This is possible in particular if it considers that the proposed concentration is likely to raise competition issues. This may be the case when a problem of coordination of behavior between the parties to the concentration arises, or even in the event that a Member State raises reasoned doubts about the concentration. In such cases, the proposed concentration may be approved by a formal decision, or even give rise to the opening of an in-depth examination phase. On the other hand, the Communication does not modify the applicable deadlines or the volume of information to be provided in the notification. It is therefore essentially a measure intended to lighten the administrative burden on the Commission.

889. – As regards cooperation with the national authorities, this seems to have generally functioned satisfactorily. However, it should be noted that the Commission had opted, with regard to referrals to national authorities, for a rather restrictive policy which limited this possibility only to cases where a distinct market, affected by an operation notified at Community level, was of a distinctly “sub-national”. This seemed logical because the Commission had had difficulties in obtaining the creation of a Regulation on the control of concentrations. Thus, Article 9 of the 1989 version of the Regulation provided, under certain conditions, for the assessment of an operation with a Community dimension to be referred to the authority of a Member State. This was possible when the concentration threatened to create or strengthen a dominant position on a distinct market within that Member State. The 2004 version of the Regulation widens the possibilities for referral when the national market affected by the concentration operation does not represent a substantial part of the Common Market. In this case, it is no longer even necessary for the State to demonstrate, in the referral request, that the concentration in question threatens to create or strengthen a dominant position on the market concerned. It is sufficient for it to establish that competition is affected. This provision has led to a resurgence of cases where a national authority is empowered to obtain the referral of a concentration operation. According to Mr. Lopez Madruga, this rule was adopted under the principle of subsidiarity.

890. – As regards the scope of the Regulation, one of its essential characteristics is that it applies exclusively to any concentration operation with a Community dimension. This is the “one stop shop” principle. This rule is an important factor in administrative simplification and legal certainty. Indeed, the filing of a single notification with the Commission makes it possible to verify the legality of an operation which could be, in the absence of such a system, subject to censorship by several national authorities. Thus, this single filing results in a relatively short deadline. This constitutes one of the main advantages of the Community merger control system. Consequently, large companies have given the Regulations a relatively favorable reception.

891. – The concepts of concentration and of Community dimension therefore make it possible to delimit the competence of the Commission. However, these are complex concepts. These have been partly clarified in the sense of a pragmatic and wide application of the Regulation.

892. – There is a concentration, within the meaning of Article 3 of EC Regulation No. 139/2004 20/01/2004, when one or more companies directly or indirectly acquire control of all or parts of one or more other companies. Control is broadly defined in Article 3 § 2 as the ability to exercise de jure or de facto decisive influence over the activity of an enterprise. The notion of acquiring “decisive influence” is undeniably favored, but its uncertain contours raise problems of application.

893. – The operation of concentration is therefore defined, not on the basis of restrictive legal criteria, but on the basis of a factual and realistic approach which favors, through the criterion of “decisive influence”, the concrete purpose of the operation. ‘operation. Thus, taking control, defined in Article 3, consists of the acquisition of economic control which may result from both legal and extra-legal factors.

894. – An approach which favors an assessment in concreto was probably inevitable in the light of the significant differences between the company laws of the various Member States. However, such a method, which often requires a complex assessment of numerous elements, in practice raises certain problems of application.

895. – Thus, the Commission considers that a minority stake can constitute de facto control if it enables its holder to control the management bodies of a company. The capital structure, the rules relating to the composition of the management bodies and their deliberations as well as the history of attendance at meetings are therefore examined. In the event of a minority stake in a listed company, an assessment is made of the more or less dispersed nature of the capital and the number of shareholders present or represented at meetings held over the past five years. . The question then is whether or not the acquirer of the minority stake holds, in practice, the majority of voting rights in shareholders’ meetings.

896. – Furthermore, the concept of the Community dimension of the concentration operation refers to the thresholds set by the Regulation. The latter provides for compulsory notification of concentrations with a Community dimension. These must involve companies with a turnover of 5 billion euros at world level and two of the companies concerned must individually have a turnover of 250 million euros at Community level. Finally, each of the companies concerned must not achieve two-thirds of its turnover in one and the same Member State. The Commission considered that these thresholds allowed a significant number of transactions to escape its control. The question of reducing the concentration control thresholds had been on the agenda for a long time. A green book advocated a downward revision. The European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the States and companies were involved in the negotiations. This resulted in Amending Regulation No. 1310/97 of 30/06/1997. This did not lower the thresholds originally planned, but added new ones. Since 01/03/1998, a total worldwide turnover of 2.5 billion euros and a Community turnover achieved individually by at least two companies of 100 million euros are sufficient to trigger Community control provided that in at least three Member States, the turnover of the undertakings concerned is greater than 100 million euros and that two of them individually achieve a turnover of more than 25 million euros. By requiring that the operation of concentration with a Community dimension have a significant impact in at least three Member States, the Commission circumvents the opposition of certain States. The latter were hostile to a lowering of the thresholds in order to preserve their sphere of power. The reform can be presented as essentially aimed at improving the effectiveness of control by strengthening the “one-stop shop” system intended to avoid multiple notifications.

Article 1 § 4 of the Regulations, as amended by the 1997 Regulations, specified that the Commission should report to the Council on the implementation of the two sets of thresholds. This Report has been produced. It focused primarily on assessing the impact of the new set of thresholds. The Commission confirmed that it allowed it to deal with cases which were indeed of a Community dimension. This being said, the small number of cases concerned and the information communicated by the national authorities have shown that the new series of thresholds did not make it possible to apprehend most concentrations with a Community dimension.

897. – Thus, the Commission has requested that a more in-depth analysis of the Community competence mechanism be undertaken in liaison with the Member States and interested parties. In the Green Paper on the revision of the Merger Regulation, the Commission therefore proposed extending its jurisdiction to proposed mergers that do not cross the main threshold but nevertheless produce effects in at least three Member States. However, this proposal, having raised many criticisms, was abandoned. Also, the Commission used another method to increase its field of competence. EC Regulation No. 139/2004 of 01/20/2004 replacing Regulation No. 4064/89 provides that the parties may inform the Commission, by reasoned statement, that the concentration has significant cross-border effects so that it examines the operation. The Commission is forwarding this memorandum to all the Member States. Any Member State concerned to examine the concentration under its national competition law may, within fifteen working days of receipt of the reasoned statement, express its disagreement with the request for referral. When none of the Member States has expressed its disagreement, the matter is referred to the European Commission.

898. – Par conséquent, le Règlement sur les concentrations soulève un certain nombre de difficultés. C’est notamment le cas pour le contrôle des concentrations bancaires à cause du traitement spécifique réservé aux établissements de crédit. Cependant, un recul de l’originalité interne du Règlement peut être constatée (section 1). Il en est de même concernant l’originalité dans l’application du Règlement (section 2).

Section 1 : Le recul de l’originalité interne du Règlement

899. – A clarification on the expression “banking concentration” within the meaning of the Regulation is necessary. Concentration operations involving credit institutions or financial institutions are thus qualified. The expression is nonetheless useful even if it covers several situations: purely banking concentrations, financial concentrations, banking and financial concentrations, but also mainly banking or financial concentrations. It is obvious that when the concentration is mainly carried out by industrial companies, even if one of the companies is a credit or financial institution, it is not a banking concentration.

900. – La specificità delle concentrazioni bancarie è espressa tre volte nel testo del Regolamento CEE n.4064/89 del 21/12/1989. Sono infatti previste specifiche disposizioni per gli enti creditizi e le istituzioni finanziarie:

– nella definizione delle soglie di competenza comunitaria: per le imprese in genere sono calcolate sulla base del fatturato ma per gli “enti creditizi e altri istituti finanziari” sono calcolate sulla base del totale di bilancio;

– nella definizione dell’operazione di concentrazione: non rientrano in tale definizione le partecipazioni temporanee quando sono realizzate da “enti creditizi e altri enti finanziari” nell’esercizio della loro attività;

– e infine, quando si tratta degli interessi legittimi che possono giustificare l’applicazione da parte degli Stati membri di misure nazionali a un’operazione di concentrazione che ha tuttavia una dimensione comunitaria: le norme prudenziali rientrano in questo legittimo interesse.

Tale originalità è molto marcata nei termini del Regolamento CEE n. 4064/89, versione 1989, perché è apparso necessario adeguare il controllo al particolarismo del settore bancario. Ciò ha creato inesattezze nei termini del Regolamento che meriterebbero senz’altro di essere soppresse (§ 1). Tale originalità, peraltro, è coerente solo quando si tratta intrinsecamente di garantire la sicurezza e il corretto funzionamento del sistema bancario e finanziario. Se è innegabile che il diritto della concorrenza abbia anche una vocazione protettiva, gli obiettivi sono diversi perché tale controllo mira solo ad impedire la creazione o il rafforzamento di ostacoli alla libera concorrenza su un mercato. In questo contesto, è difficile giustificare in modo convincente l’esistenza di specificità nel trattamento concorrenziale degli enti creditizi. È per questo che la rimozione di alcune sostanziali ambiguità si è concretizzata nella messa in discussione dell’originalità bancaria (§ 2).

§ 1: La voluta cancellazione delle inesattezze testuali relative all’originalità del controllo

901. – I termini del Regolamento, che determinano la portata della specificità delle concentrazioni bancarie, contengono alcune imprecisioni. Esse, infatti, mancano di coerenza con i concetti ei principi risultanti dalle direttive sul coordinamento bancario, ciascuna parte delle quali si inserisce precisamente in un insieme coerente.

Pertanto, la terminologia del regolamento non si inserisce armoniosamente nel sistema del mercato bancario unico. Questa mancanza di rigore nella forma crea alcune imprecisioni che possono indebolire la regolamentazione bancaria comunitaria.

Tali imprecisioni, nell’ambito delle concentrazioni bancarie, possono essere eliminate da un lato nei concetti (A), dall’altro nei principi (B).

A/ La rimozione delle inesattezze nelle nozioni

902. – L’imprécision existe dans les définitions d’établissements de crédit et d’établissements financiers (1) ainsi que dans la notion d’activité bancaire (2).

1/ L’imprécision dans les définitions d’établissements de crédit et d’établissements financiers

903. – Le Règlement prévoit en ses articles 3 § 5 a) et 5 § 3 a) des dispositions spécifiques pour les « établissements de crédit et autres établissements financiers ». Ces notions ont une signification très précise dans les directives qui réalisent le marché bancaire unique. Il conviendrait qu’elles aient le même sens dans le Règlement parce que le contrôle des concentrations bancaires participe à la réalisation du marché bancaire unique, système dont le fonctionnement exige cohérence. Mais rien ne permet de l’affirmer. En effet, le Règlement, qui ne donne aucune définition des établissements de crédit et des établissements financiers qu’il vise, ne renvoie aucunement à celles figurant dans ces directives. Ainsi, aucune précision, aucune référence, ne rattache les notions « d’établissements de crédit et autres établissements financiers » à des définitions déjà données dans d’autres textes communautaires. Cela est surprenant car les directives bancaires effectuent ces rattachements avec soin.

904. – Aux termes de l’article 1 de la première directive de coordination bancaire, un établissement de crédit est défini comme « une entreprise dont l’activité consiste à recevoir du public des dépôts ou d’autres fonds remboursables et à octroyer des crédits pour son propre compte ». C’est à cette définition que renvoie expressément la deuxième directive de coordination bancaire du 15/12/1989. Par ailleurs, aux termes de l’article 1 de cette deuxième directive, un établissement financier est défini comme « une entreprise, autre qu’un établissement de crédit, dont l’activité principale consiste à prendre des participations ou à exercer une ou plusieurs activités visées au point 2 à 12 de la liste figurant à l’annexe ».

905. – Il pourrait être considéré que ce défaut de renvoi s’explique dans le cas des établissements financiers, puisque la deuxième directive les définissant n’est antérieure que de quelques jours au Règlement. Un tel argument ne pourrait pas prospérer. D’une part, il était facile de prévoir une harmonisation des définitions lors de la préparation des deux textes. D’autre part, le Règlement ne fait pas non plus de renvoi à la définition qu’en a donnée la directive du 13/06/1983 relative à la surveillance des établissements de crédit sur une base consolidée, qui lui est pourtant antérieure de plus de 6 ans. L’établissement financier y est défini comme « une entreprise, autre qu’un établissement de crédit, dont l’activité principale consiste à accorder des facilités de crédit, y compris des garanties, à prendre des participations ou à effectuer des placements ». Il est remarquable que la définition de l’établissement financier issue de la deuxième directive n’est pas la même que celle issue de la directive de 1983. Cependant, la directive du 6/04/1992, également sur la surveillance des établissements de crédit sur une base consolidée, s’est entièrement substituée à celle de 1983. Elle est le signe d’un souci de cohérence de ses rédacteurs car elle reprend désormais la définition de l’établissement financier, telle qu’elle résulte de la deuxième directive.

906. – L’ambiguïté demeure car chaque définition, celle de l’établissement de crédit comme celle de l’établissement financier, est expressément donnée dans le cadre des directives qui les contiennent : « aux fins de la présente directive…». Concernant le Règlement, il est donc légitime de se demander s’il faut reprendre les mêmes définitions que celles adoptées par les directives évoquées. Cela paraît souhaitable. Toutefois, juridiquement rien ne l’exige et les difficultés d’interprétation sont évidentes. D’autres définitions pourraient même être retenues pour son application.

907. – Dans le silence du Règlement, les définitions à retenir pour son application peuvent être celles des autres instruments juridiques communautaires, parmi lesquelles celles des droits nationaux. Mais alors, dans l’hypothèse où plusieurs droits nationaux seraient concernés, quelle définition faudrait-il choisir ? Textuellement, aucune ne s’impose. La lettre du Règlement ne donne aucune indication et permet toute interprétation.

908. – La cohérence et la rigueur nécessaires au bon fonctionnement du marché bancaire unique commandent d’adopter, pour tous les textes, les mêmes définitions. Ainsi, la Commission a souhaité éclaircir ce point et dans une Communication, elle explique, que dans sa pratique décisionnelle, elle a toujours entendu adopter les définitions figurant dans les directives bancaires. Cette affirmation n’a qu’une valeur indicative. Une suppression textuelle de cette imprécision est donc souhaitable. Il en est de même pour la notion de domaine bancaire.

2/ L’imprécision dans la notion d’activité bancaire

909. – Le Règlement contient une imprécision dans la notion d’activité bancaire. Les prises de participations temporaires, selon l’article 3 § 5 a), ne constituent pas des opérations de concentration. Par conséquent, elles échappent au contrôle prévu par le Règlement, si elles sont réalisées par des établissements de crédit ou d’autres établissements financiers « dont l’activité normale inclut la transaction et la négociation de titres pour propre compte ou pour compte d’autrui ». Deux conditions doivent être réunies : non exercice par ces établissements des droits de vote attachés aux dites participations en vue de déterminer le comportement concurrentiel de l’entreprise et réalisation dans le délai d’un an à compter de l’acquisition.

910. – Paradoxalement, c’est par excès de précision que ce texte crée une imprécision dans la notion d’activité bancaire telle que prévue par les directives. En effet, en indiquant « dont l’activité normale inclut la transaction et la négociation de titres », il apporte une précision qui peut susciter un doute sur le sens de l’activité normale. Il peut s’agir de l’activité statutaire ou de l’activité régulière. En outre, cela est d’autant plus confus que la définition communautaire des établissements de crédit n’inclut pas ce type d’activités. Un établissement de crédit au sens communautaire n’a pas toujours une activité sur les titres même si son agrément le lui permettrait. Dès lors, un tel établissement qui souhaiterait prendre une participation temporaire, qui ferait occasionnellement des portages, ne répondrait pas au scénario précis de l’article 3 § 5 a), faute d’inclure dans son activité normale la transaction et la négociation de titres. La lettre trop précise du texte crée un doute : faut-il dans ce cas considérer qu’il s’agit d’une opération de concentration pouvant relever du contrôle communautaire ? En se référant à la précision de la rédaction, la réponse est positive, mais elle est négative eu égard à l’esprit du texte. A notre avis, il n’est pas souhaitable que les prises de participations temporaires de certains établissements de crédit soient soumises au contrôle des concentrations tandis que d’autres en sont exemptes. Ceci est contraire à la cohérence du marché bancaire unique. Il conviendrait donc qu’à la lecture du Règlement, il se dégage une notion précise des prises de participations temporaires n’entrant pas dans la définition d’une opération de concentration.

Ainsi, le contrôle communautaire des concentrations bancaires fait apparaître des ambiguïtés dans les notions utilisées, mais aussi dans les principes.

B/ La suppression des imprécisions dans les principes

911. – Il y a une articulation évidente entre les impératifs du contrôle des concentrations et ceux du contrôle prudentiel.

912. – Le contrôle des concentrations organisé par le Règlement a pour objectif, notamment, d’empêcher la création ou le renforcement d’une position dominante, lorsque des entreprises réalisent certaines opérations notamment des fusions ou des prises de contrôle. L’appréciation que doit faire la Commission lorsqu’un projet lui est notifié, porte sur l’incidence de l’opération envisagée sur le marché. Quelle serait la position de l’entreprise, après la réalisation de l’opération, et plus précisément entraverait-elle de manière significative une concurrence effective, notamment, par création ou renforcement d’une position dominante sur le marché concerné ? Dans l’affirmative, l’opération ne peut avoir lieu. Ce n’est pas le pourcentage d’une prise de participation qui importe, mais son impact sur la situation de l’entreprise par rapport au marché en cause. Cela est vrai pour toute concentration projetée, qu’il s’agisse d’entreprises commerciales, industrielles, d’établissements de crédit ou d’établissements financiers. A cet égard, il n’y a pas de spécificité des concentrations bancaires : le contrôle communautaire s’exerce en considération des parts de marché.

913. – Le contrôle prudentiel organisé par les directives a pour objectif de veiller à la situation financière de l’établissement de crédit : des ratios, des limites, des seuils sont harmonisés. Ce sont les autorités compétentes de l’Etat membre d’origine qui contrôlent l’activité de l’établissement et de toutes ses succursales. En outre, l’appréciation du respect des règles prudentielles doit se faire, le cas échéant, sur la base d’une situation consolidée. S’agissant plus particulièrement de prises de participations d’un établissement de crédit dans des entreprises industrielles, l’article 12 de la deuxième directive limite chaque participation qualifiée à 15 % des fonds propres de l’établissement de crédit et leur montant total à 60 % desdits fonds propres. Ici, peu importe l’impact sur le marché géographique ou sur le marché des produits : seule est requise une vérification de non dépassement des seuils.

914. – Ces deux contrôles n’ont donc pas la même finalité, ni le même objet : ils n’en sont pas moins obligatoires l’un et l’autre. Or, lorsque l’opération envisagée est de dimension communautaire au sens de l’article 1 du Règlement, la Commission sous réserve du contrôle de la Cour de justice des Communautés européennes a une compétence exclusive pour apprécier le projet. Par conséquent, comment concilier cette compétence exclusive avec la compétence des autorités de contrôle prudentiel de l’Etat membre d’origine ?

915. – Après avoir affirmé la compétence exclusive de la Commission pour rendre une décision en application du Règlement, l’article 21 précise en son paragraphe 4 que « les Etats membres peuvent prendre les mesures appropriées pour assurer la protection d’intérêts légitimes autres que ceux qui sont pris en considération par le présent règlement ». Il précise que parmi ces intérêts légitimes, il faut entendre « les règles prudentielles ». En vertu de ce texte, les Etats membres sont donc autorisés à s’opposer à une concentration bancaire que la Commission juge pourtant compatible avec le Marché commun. Les règles prudentielles qui justifient une telle opposition sont explicitées dans les commentaires annexés au Règlement : « elles concernent par exemple l’honorabilité des personnes, la régularité des opérations et les conditions de solvabilité ». Ce ne sont que des exemples et il est évident que toutes les règles prudentielles applicables à un établissement de crédit entrent dans les prévisions de l’article 21 § 4. Ces règles sont, pour la plupart, harmonisées ; s’agissant d’une harmonisation minimale, chaque Etat membre peut en prévoir de plus exigeantes mais peut seulement les appliquer aux établissements de crédit agréés sur son territoire.

916. – La répartition des compétences telle que prévue par l’article 21 § 4 semble claire. La Commission est compétente pour apprécier une opération de concentration au regard de la position qu’elle crée pour l’entreprise sur le marché en cause. Or, au regard des exigences prudentielles, ce sont les autorités de l’Etat membre d’origine qui apprécient le projet. Toutefois, la rédaction de l’article 21 § 4 peut susciter des interprétations différentes quant à la nature même de ces compétences.

917. – The text indicates that the Member States “may” take measures… This suggests that they have the right and the ability to prevent a proposed concentration to ensure the protection of legitimate interests. However, with regard to the prudential rules, it should be remembered that they have an obligation to do so and that if they find that the prudential requirements are not met, they have a sort of linked competence to take the measures that are impose. Indeed, the Commission can issue a decision of compatibility with the common market on a proposed concentration in which at least one of the companies is a credit institution and thus authorize the completion of the operation. The supervisory authorities of the credit institution’s home Member State must then prohibit it as it stands, if it appears that the prudential rules are not respected. The text could suggest that the supervisory authorities of the Member State concerned have discretionary powers. This should not be the case without contradicting the principles on which the entire system of prudential supervision of credit institutions as designed for the creation of the single banking market is based.

918. – However, the vagueness of the text on this competence could be an argument to challenge a position taken by these authorities or, on the contrary, to justify their non-opposition to a proposed concentration contrary to prudential requirements. This imprecision should therefore be removed, since leaving room for the slightest doubt risks upsetting the balance of the single banking market.

919. – So that the letter of the text of Article 21 § 4 is consistent with its spirit, it should be stated that the decisions of the Commission do not prejudge the application, by each Member State, of the provisions concerning the prudential supervision requirements. Thus, in order to respect the principles of the single banking market, the connection must be made between the control of concentrations falling within the competence of the Community and the prudential supervision falling within the competence of the Member States.

Therefore, we have demonstrated that several specific notions and principles create inaccuracies. These could be removed by improving the drafting of the Regulations. It is therefore desirable that Community law be formally improved. Furthermore, it should be specified that the removal of certain substantial ambiguities has already been materialized by the questioning of banking originality.

§ 2: The concretization of the elimination of substantial inaccuracies

920. – The specificity of the calculation of the community dimension of credit institutions has been the subject of a reform (A). In addition, the last two rules specific to the banking sector, contained in the text of the Regulation, have been largely limited (B).

A/ The reform of the rules for calculating the community dimension of credit institutions

921. – La specificità del controllo delle concentrazioni bancarie rispetto al regime generale si è espressa in particolare quando è stato necessario calcolare le soglie al di sopra delle quali il controllo rientra nella competenza comunitaria e quindi sfugge a quella nazionale. Le fusioni bancarie sono state oggetto di un regime molto criticato, che ha suscitato molte riflessioni (1). È per questo motivo che il Regolamento CE n. 1310/97 ha rivisto il metodo di calcolo della dimensione comunitaria della concentrazione bancaria (2).

1/ Critiche al metodo di calcolo della dimensione comunitaria degli enti creditizi nel Regolamento CEE n. 4064/89 del 21/12/1989

922. – It has already been specified that under the terms of Article 1 of the Regulation, Community control concerns concentrations which are “with a Community dimension”, the others falling within the competence of the national authorities. Article 1 § 2 of the Regulation explains what is meant by the community dimension. The conditions are cumulative and relate to total worldwide turnover, individual turnover in the Community and total turnover in one and the same Member State.

923. – With regard to the assessment of the Community dimension of a banking concentration operation, it was not the turnover that initially served as the basis for calculating these thresholds but another criterion: one-tenth of the balance sheet total. Article 5 § 3 a) provided, before its modification within the framework of Regulation EC n° 1310/97 of 30/06/1997, that for credit institutions and other financial institutions, the total worldwide turnover was replaced by one tenth of the balance sheet total.
For the turnover achieved individually in the Community, it was replaced by “the tenth of the balance sheet total multiplied by the ratio between claims on credit institutions and on customers, resulting from transactions with residents of the Community, and the total amount of these receivables ”.

Per il fatturato totale realizzato in uno stesso Stato membro, è stato sostituito da “il decimo del totale di bilancio moltiplicato per il rapporto tra crediti verso enti creditizi e crediti verso clientela, derivanti da operazioni con residenti di tale Stato membro, e l’importo totale di tali crediti”.

Fortunatamente, le Regole contenevano una nota esplicativa all’articolo 5 § 3 a) sotto forma di un esempio numerico. Ciò ha dimostrato che era necessario isolare nel bilancio dell’ente creditizio o dell’istituto finanziario oggetto del calcolo i suoi crediti nei confronti di enti creditizi situati nella Comunità. Inoltre, era necessario distinguere i crediti nei confronti di enti creditizi situati in un unico e medesimo Stato membro.

924. – Non era tanto la complessità del calcolo quanto il fondamento del calcolo ad essere discutibile. È stato sorprendente notare che per tutte le imprese la valutazione della dimensione comunitaria si basava sul fatturato. Per gli enti creditizi e le finanziarie, invece, si è fatto dal decimo di bilancio. Non si comprendeva perché il criterio del fatturato non fosse stato mantenuto per questi stabilimenti come per qualsiasi altra società. Alcuni avevano spiegato che era perché questi stabilimenti non hanno fatturato. Per fortuna ce l’hanno, come chiunque altro abbia un’attività: il fatturato è solo la conseguenza di questa attività. La terminologia può variare: reddito, utile operativo o reddito operativo, ma l’idea rimane. Anche se si usano altri termini, si tratta sempre di fatturato.

925. – Undoubtedly, for credit institutions or financial institutions, the expression turnover is not used but generally that of operating banking income. Nevertheless, it was easy for the drafters of the Regulation to indicate that for these establishments, the turnover must be understood as the banking product. Admittedly, in 1989, if the thresholds laid down for companies in general had been applied to this notion of banking product, this would have led, in most cases, to excluding banking concentration operations from Community competence. This was the question of the amount of the threshold to be retained for it to be significant, but this did not call into question the basis of calculation. In effect, the drafters of the Regulation could lower the threshold for the Community dimension of banking concentrations. They had not done so and had preferred to change the criterion by adopting that of one tenth of the balance sheet total.

926. – According to Mr Lopez Madruga, this criterion had been chosen rationally. Indeed, the prices of banking services and in particular the interest rates were the subject of a great disparity in the various Member States, at the time of the adoption of the Regulation on concentrations. For example, at the end of the 1980s, the gap between German interest rates and Italian or Spanish interest rates was very significant. Indeed, inflation in these last two states was very high. Thus, the turnover criterion could not give an exact dimension of the bank.

927. – However, it should be noted that the notions of turnover and balance sheet are distinct: turnover reflects the activity of a company, the balance sheet is the state of its assets and in no way corresponds to a concept of revenue. Calculating the Community dimension of a banking concentration on the basis of the state of the assets of the establishments concerned remained questionable, despite the argument put forward above. There was not only a difference in treatment, which was not fully justified, but also an inconsistency which created difficulties of assessment. Indeed, it is obvious that the presence of a company on a market is expressed by its activity and that it is its turnover which is the measure of it. The balance sheet does not have this function. Regardless of the amount, high or low, it does not provide any indication enabling the company’s place on the market in question to be compared with other competitors. Despite a large balance sheet, the company can have a low activity and conversely, with a low balance sheet, it can have a strong presence on a market. Therefore, it seemed paradoxical that in the control, aimed at preventing the creation or strengthening of a dominant position on a market, the distribution of powers between the Community and national authorities is done according to a criterion unfit to reflect the activity of the establishments in question. it may have a strong presence in a market. Therefore, it seemed paradoxical that in the control, aimed at preventing the creation or strengthening of a dominant position on a market, the distribution of powers between the Community and national authorities is done according to a criterion unfit to reflect the activity of the establishments in question. it may have a strong presence in a market. Therefore, it seemed paradoxical that in the control, aimed at preventing the creation or strengthening of a dominant position on a market, the distribution of powers between the Community and national authorities is done according to a criterion unfit to reflect the activity of the establishments in question.

928. – The commentaries, officially appended to the text of the Rules, clearly indicated that a revision was envisaged from the outset. Certainly, the drafters were aware of the imperfection of the criterion they adopted. “The Council and the Commission consider that the criterion defined on the basis of the balance sheet should be replaced by the concept of operating income as it appears in Directive No 86/635 on the annual accounts and consolidated accounts of banks and other financial institutions, either when the relevant provisions of this Directive actually come into force, or when the thresholds referred to in Article 1 of this Regulation are revised and in the light of the experience gained”. As a result,

2/ Revision of the method for calculating the community dimension in Regulation EEC No. 1310/97 of 30/06/1997

929. – Following numerous debates, Regulation EEC No. 4064/89 was amended by Regulation EC n° 1310/97 of 30/06/1997. The latter did not succeed in imposing a profound reform of the thresholds in general, but made the desired change for credit institutions.

The criterion of one-tenth of the balance sheet total, which had been retained as a substitution criterion, is thus replaced by that of banking income because it better reflects economic reality. In our opinion, the criterion is presented as another way of expressing the turnover. Indeed, article 5 § 3 a) in fine provides that “the turnover of a credit institution (…) includes the following income items (…)”. In addition, Regulation No. 1310/97 specifies that “for the purposes of calculating the turnover of credit institutions (…), the banking product constitutes a better criterion (…)”. Finally, the communication on the calculation of turnover devotes a section to the calculation of the turnover of credit institutions. Substantially, the criterion is therefore the turnover.

930. – Le nouveau régime modifie la base de calcul. Les chiffres d’affaires mondiaux et communautaires sont déterminés sur la base des recettes générées par ces institutions. Il s’agit des intérêts et produits assimilés, des revenus de titres, des commissions, des bénéfices nets provenant d’opérations financières ainsi que d’autres produits d’exploitation.

Selon l’article 5, le calcul du chiffre d’affaires total visé à l’article l § 2 comprend les montants résultant de la vente de produits et de services fournis à des entreprises ou des consommateurs soit dans la Communauté, soit dans l’Etat membre en question. Ils sont réalisés par les entreprises concernées au cours du dernier exercice et correspondent à leurs activités ordinaires, déduction faite des réductions sur ventes ainsi que de la taxe sur la valeur ajoutée et d’autres impôts directement liés au chiffre d’affaires.

Le calcul de la dimension communautaire, dans le Règlement, version 1989, soulevait aussi des difficultés d’application, dans la mesure où il privilégiait pour, l’allocation géographique, le lieu de résidence des clients. Or, le lieu de résidence d’un emprunteur est délicat à déterminer et peut varier pendant la durée du prêt. Ce critère constituait donc une lourde charge pour les banques. Depuis 1998, le critère retenu est celui de la résidence de la succursale ou de la division qui accorde le prêt ou fournit le service.

931. – Ce régime simplifie donc les modes de calcul et les établissements sont en mesure de déterminer plus aisément que par le passé si leur transaction est de dimension communautaire. Les nouveaux critères ont également entraîné une recrudescence du nombre de notifications. En effet, ils ont pour vocation de s’appliquer à des transactions qui étaient jusqu’alors exclues. Il s’agit principalement des concentrations conclues par les établissements de crédit à faibles bilans mais qui ont des revenus importants.

932. – Cependant, il convient de noter que cette nouvelle règle d’affectation géographique du chiffre d’affaires fondée sur le lieu de prestation a eu pour effet de « concentrer » le chiffre d’affaires des établissements de crédit dans le pays de leur siège social. C’est ainsi que des opérations telles que les offres publiques BNP/ Paribas et Crédit Agricole/ Crédit Lyonnais se sont avérées dépourvues de dimension communautaire, ces banques réalisant plus des deux tiers de leur activité communautaire en France. Ainsi, de nombreuses concentrations européennes ont échappé au contrôle de la Commission et ont été traitées par les autorités nationales.

Nous avons donc démontré que le Règlement CE n° 1310/97 a supprimé la spécificité du calcul de la dimension communautaire propre au contrôle des concentrations bancaires. Enfin, concernant les autres spécificités bancaires, elles ont été largement cantonnées.

B/ Le cantonnement des spécificités bancaires textuelles

933. – Deux règles spécifiques ont été adoptées dès l’origine par le Règlement sur les concentrations parce qu’il apparaissait nécessaire d’adapter le contrôle au particularisme du secteur bancaire. Cette conception n’est cohérente que lorsqu’il s’agit intrinsèquement d’assurer la sécurité et le bon fonctionnement du système bancaire et financier. Ainsi, la « clause bancaire » a été inappliquée (1), tandis que la protection des « intérêts légitimes » nationaux a été appréciée limitativement par la Commission (2).

1/ L’inapplication de la « clause bancaire »

934. – Il existe une disposition du Règlement, dénommée « clause bancaire », qui constitue, pour les établissements de crédit, une exception à l’application des règles traditionnelles en matière de contrôle des concentrations.

Selon l’article 3 § 5 du Règlement, il n’y a pas concentration, lorsque des établissements de crédit ou des établissements financiers, dont l’activité normale inclut la transaction et la négociation de titres pour compte propre ou compte d’autrui, détiennent, à titre temporaire, des participations qu’ils ont acquises dans une entreprise en vue de leur revente.

935. – Pour bénéficier de cette disposition et ainsi éviter la notification de ce type de transaction, l’acquisition doit s’effectuer dans le cadre de cette « activité normale » et la détention de ces titres doit présenter un « caractère temporaire ». Dans une communication sur la notion de concentration, la Commission a précisé les conditions qui doivent être satisfaites :

– l’entreprise en cause doit être un établissement de crédit ou un établissement financier, dont les activités normales consistent à réaliser ce type d’opérations ;

– les titres doivent être acquis en vue de leur revente ;

– l’entreprise acquérant les titres ne doit pas exercer les droits de vote attachés à cette acquisition en vue de déterminer la stratégie commerciale de l’entreprise cible ou bien ne doit les exercer qu’en vue de préparer la vente de sa participation ;

– enfin, l’entreprise qui procède à l’acquisition doit réaliser sa participation dans un délai d’un an à compter de la date de cette acquisition. Une prorogation est prévue, lorsque l’entreprise justifie que cette réalisation n’a pas été raisonnablement possible dans le délai imparti.

936. – Cependant, il faut constater que cette « clause bancaire » n’a pratiquement jamais été utilisée jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Cet article a une approche purement académique selon Monsieur Lopez Madruga. En effet, lorsqu’une banque prend une participation dans un établissement de crédit, elle ne connaît pas la date exacte à laquelle elle va la revendre. Par conséquent, elle va notifier l’opération de concentration. En outre, cette différence de traitement concurrentiel ne se justifie pas vraiment car elle n’a pas pour objectif de protéger le système bancaire et financier.

Cette exception à l’obligation de notification ne constitue donc qu’en théorie, une spécificité propre au secteur bancaire, il en est de même en ce qui concerne la protection des intérêts légitimes nationaux.

2/ La limitation de la protection des intérêts légitimes nationaux

937. – La Commission dispose d’une compétence exclusive pour examiner les concentrations de dimension communautaire, ce qui signifie qu’un Etat membre ne peut pas appliquer sa législation nationale de concurrence à une transaction entrant dans le champ d’application du Règlement.

938. – Toutefois, selon l’article 21 § 4 du Règlement, les Etats membres peuvent déroger, sous certaines conditions, à cette compétence exclusive de la Commission. Ces derniers « peuvent » en effet prendre les « mesures appropriées » pour assurer la protection d’« intérêts légitimes » nationaux, tels que le respect des règles prudentielles. Ces « intérêts légitimes » sont différents de ceux qui sont pris en considération par le Règlement n° 139/2004 et compatibles avec les principes généraux ainsi que les autres dispositions du droit communautaire. Une telle disposition est susceptible de permettre à un Etat de bloquer une opération de dimension communautaire.

939. – Tuttavia, quest’ultimo non può mai autorizzare un’operazione vietata perché «l’articolo 21 non crea nuovi diritti in capo agli Stati come quello di autorizzare una concentrazione vietata». Questa interpretazione conferma la nostra tesi. Esiste infatti una differenza fondamentale tra controllo prudenziale e controllo concorrenziale. Il primo controllo mira a proteggere il sistema bancario mentre il secondo mira a mantenere la concorrenza in un mercato. Pertanto, è inconcepibile che uno Stato autorizzi una concentrazione sulla base di regole prudenziali mentre la Commissione l’aveva vietata perché quest’ultima creava o rafforzava una posizione dominante.

940. – A proposito di tali “legittimi interessi”, la Commissione ha precisato nel 1989 che possono essere legittimamente invocate “le norme prudenziali” esistenti negli Stati membri. Si tratta, in particolare, di prestazioni di servizi finanziari, la cui applicazione è generalmente affidata agli organi nazionali di controllo di banche, società di intermediazione mobiliare e assicurazioni. Riguardano, ad esempio, “l’onorabilità delle persone, la regolarità delle operazioni e le condizioni di solvibilità”. È logico che questa specificità esista quando riguarda direttamente la tutela del sistema bancario e finanziario, ma altrimenti non ha più alcuna giustificazione e la Commissione ne rifiuta l’accoglimento.

941. – Tale disposizione, invocata solo nel 1999 da uno Stato membro, ha dato luogo a un diniego di applicazione da parte della Commissione, in occasione dell’operazione tra il gruppo Champalimaud e la banca spagnola BSCH.

942. – Tale causa è stata interpretata come una manifestazione di “nazionalismo” bancario ed è stata portata dalla Commissione europea e dal governo portoghese dinanzi alla Corte di giustizia delle Comunità europee.

943. – Nella fattispecie BSCH ha notificato alla Commissione, in data 30/06/1999, ai sensi del regolamento comunitario sulle concentrazioni, gli accordi di permuta. Secondo loro, la banca spagnola, già presente in Portogallo nel settore bancario, avrebbe ottenuto il 40% delle società del gruppo portoghese Champalimaud. Questo gruppo era composto in particolare dalla compagnia assicurativa portoghese Mundial Confiança e da un certo numero di banche portoghesi, tra cui la banca Pinto & Sotto-Mayor. Gli accordi in questione hanno portato al controllo congiunto di BSCH e del sig. Antonio Champalimaud su questo gruppo di istituzioni finanziarie.

944. – Sull’esistenza di una concentrazione di dimensione comunitaria, ai sensi del regolamento, non vi era alcun dubbio. La Commissione aveva quindi, in linea di principio, competenza esclusiva per valutarne la compatibilità con il mercato comune.

945. – Ma le autorità portoghesi, ostili al progetto, presero l’iniziativa. Dal 18/06/1999, il Ministro delle Finanze, inoltrato dall’Instituto de Seguros, si è opposto alla concentrazione, adducendo le regole prudenziali che dovevano far rispettare. Pertanto, con ordinanza del 18.06.1999, il Ministro delle Finanze portoghese si è opposto a questa operazione e ha sospeso in particolare i diritti di voto di BSCH e del sig. Champalimaud in Mundial Confiança.

946. – La Commission refusa l’application de l’article 21 § 3 du Règlement, par une décision adoptée le 20/07/1999, considérant que les trois motifs invoqués par le Portugal, ne pouvaient constituer des intérêts légitimes au sens du Règlement. La Commission rejeta les arguments relatifs à la protection d’intérêts nationaux et de secteurs stratégiques pour l’économie nationale. En effet, ces mesures ne pouvaient être invoquées au titre des « intérêts légitimes » car le principe de non-discrimination à raison de la nationalité ainsi que les principes de liberté d’établissement et de libre circulation des capitaux furent violés. Plus précisément, les différents motifs d’ordre prudentiel invoqués par le gouvernement portugais furent également rejetés, en raison des doutes sérieux de la Commission sur leur réalité. En l’espèce, la Commission constata que les mesures portugaises tendaient à protéger des intérêts purement nationaux et stratégiques donc non prudentiels.

Le 20/07/1999, la Commission adopta une décision provisoire. Elle demanda la suspension de la décision des autorités portugaises en déclarant celle-ci incompatible avec le Règlement. Par conséquent, la Commission exigea que les mesures adoptées au plan national, afin d’empêcher la réalisation de la transaction entre BSCH et Champalimaud soient paralysées. Pour la première fois, elle s’opposa ainsi à une décision d’un Etat membre invoquant des « intérêts légitimes » pour bloquer une concentration bancaire de dimension communautaire.

Le 03/08/1999, elle autorisa donc formellement la concentration notifiée au titre du Règlement, qui ne put toutefois être mis en œuvre, compte tenu du non respect de la décision du 20/07/1999 par les autorités portugaises. Ces dernières maintinrent leur veto. Une offre publique d’achat fut même annoncée par une banque portugaise, la Banco Comercial Portugués, avec l’objectif d’empêcher la prise de contrôle du Groupe Champalimaud par le BSCH.

947. – En l’absence de suspension des mesures nationales, la Commission décida alors d’ouvrir, dès le mois de septembre, une procédure d’infraction accélérée contre le Portugal pour violation du droit communautaire. La Commission adopta, le 20/10/1999, une décision finale déclarant l’arrêté incompatible avec le Règlement sur les concentrations et elle prit la décision formelle d’engager la procédure accélérée en manquement contre le Portugal en raison de la non suspension du veto. Ceci aboutit au mois de novembre 1999 à la saisine de la Cour de justice des Communautés Européennes. A chaque stade, le Portugal saisit la Cour de justice des Communautés Européennes.

948. – Ce n’est qu’aux termes de négociations entre la Commission, le Gouvernement portugais et les parties concernées qu’un accord intervint à la fin du mois de novembre 1999. BSCH s’engagea à céder une partie des actifs bancaires du groupe Champalimaud à la première institution financière portugaise, la Caixa Geral de Depositos. Cet accord fut autorisé par la Commission le 12/01/2000. Dès lors, à la suite de l’annulation par le gouvernement portugais des mesures évoquées plus haut, par décret du 25/11/1999, la Commission annonça le retrait de son recours. 949. – Ainsi, il est démontré les limites des arguments liés à la protection des « intérêts légitimes » nationaux, notamment en ce qui concerne les règles prudentielles. La Commission semble vouloir requalifier proprio motu les mesures nationales invoquant l’article 21 § 4 du Règlement lorsque celles-ci s’expliquent par des intérêts stratégiques nationaux non légitimes au regard de cet article. Cette affaire ne constitue pas seulement un premier cas d’application de la règle de l’article 21 § 4 du Règlement mais aussi un point de référence quant aux intérêts susceptibles de justifier l’intervention des Etats membres.

950. – This affair is indicative of the resistance that can arise during cross-border banking concentrations and of the desire of governments to preserve “national champions”. The Commission has demonstrated that the provisions reserved for banks must be interpreted restrictively. This leads to a containment of the textual specificities of the Regulations. Correlatively, a decline in originality in the application of the Regulation is thus perceptible.

Section 2: The decline of originality in the application of the Rules

951. – In its first decisions, the Commission did not define the reference banking markets. This specificity of the control of banking concentrations has been denied, which has made it possible to resolve certain ambiguities (§ 1). In addition, the analysis of the Commission’s decisions on banking concentration shows that the specificity of control is limited. This only seems to subsist in the most technical aspects specific to the banking sector (§ 2).

§ 1: The denial of the specificity of control concerning reference banking markets

952. – The number of merger operations in the banking sector has increased. The risk of a dominant position becoming conceivable, it therefore appeared necessary to define the reference banking markets (A). In addition, the rules which the Commission has established for the delimitation of any other relevant market have been applied (B).

A/ The questioning of the lack of definition of reference banking markets

953. – When it is necessary to assess whether any company is or is likely to be in a dominant position on a market, the logical and classic approach consists in defining this market, that is to say the framework in which this is carried out. appreciation. The market is a place of confrontation between supply and demand for substitutable goods or services, that is to say capable of also satisfying the needs and preferences of consumers. It has two dimensions. The first is expressed in terms of products or services. The second concerns geographical space. This definition constitutes a necessary and decisive step in the reasoning which leads to say whether or not there is a dominant position. Indeed, we must be aware of the issues involved. The risk of occupying a dominant position for a company is all the greater when the reference market is narrow. Therefore, those who wish to obtain a compatibility decision must find arguments in favor of a broad definition of the market. The Commission, which must ensure respect for free competition, is careful to adopt the most exact definition possible. However, in terms of banking concentration, this definition has long been lacking.

954. – On reading the first decisions rendered on banking concentration, it can be seen that, contrary to the traditional approach, the Commission did not define the reference markets.

Until 1993, it always considered that this definition was not essential. Due to the very small market shares held, the institutions concerned presented no risk of being in a dominant position, and it was deliberately that it left open the question of the definition of the markets.

Thus, in the BNP/Dresdner Bank (CS) decision, this is clearly explained: “in the present case, the question of the geographic markets concerned can be left open. Even if we retained a narrow definition of these markets, we note that on their national markets, the BNP and the Dresdner Bank respectively hold less than 10% and less than 6% of the market shares”. In the other Community markets, their market shares represent less than 4%. “Furthermore, the small shares held by the two banks, which are among the main ones in their respective countries, sufficiently underline the dispersion of the market without it being necessary to define the banking services markets concerned more precisely”. Without always being so explicit, until 1993, the decisions concerning credit institutions generally contained this assertion that the question of market definition was left open, that is to say that it was not dealt with. The Commission had acted with “pragmatism”, according to Mr. Lopez Madruga. “Indeed, it was not useful to enshrine a definition of markets, which would have created a certain administrative burden, as it was obvious that the concentration operation could not create or strengthen a dominant position”. The fragmentation of the banking sector was such that this risk did not exist. it was not useful to devote a definition of the markets, which would have created a certain administrative heaviness, so much it was obvious that the operation of concentration could not create or reinforce a dominant position”. The fragmentation of the banking sector was such that this risk did not exist. it was not useful to devote a definition of the markets, which would have created a certain administrative heaviness, so much it was obvious that the operation of concentration could not create or reinforce a dominant position”. The fragmentation of the banking sector was such that this risk did not exist.

955. – However, the context has changed a great deal as the European banking sector has become more concentrated. Thus, it seems that since 1993, the Commission began to engage in a definition of reference banking markets.

956. – This initiation took place with the decision of 03/08/1993 in the Société Générale de Belgique/Générale de Banque case. The Commission assessed the market shares of the institutions concerned on the three product markets it had previously defined: the buyer’s credit market in Belgium, the primary dealer market in Belgium and the global market for interest rate swaps in francs Belgians. This time, the course of the reasoning returned to the logic of a prior definition of product markets and geographic markets. Similarly, the decision of 15/11/1993, in the Fortis/CGER case, demonstrated that the Commission no longer dispenses with market definition. Indeed, it evokes the degree of substitutability between the different banking products. Gold, it is an essential notion for the definition of a product market. This is the first time that it refers, in relation to banking products, to the concept of substitutability or interchangeability. Admittedly, it immediately specifies that appreciation is difficult for banking products, but it used this notion on which the definition of a product market must be based. This change is fundamental, because it is the sign that the specificity of the control of banking concentrations, concerning the absence of definition of the reference markets, has been called into question. In addition, the Commission now defines the reference banking markets in a manner comparable to other economic sectors. to the concept of substitutability or interchangeability. Admittedly, it immediately specifies that appreciation is difficult for banking products, but it used this notion on which the definition of a product market must be based. This change is fundamental, because it is the sign that the specificity of the control of banking concentrations, concerning the absence of definition of the reference markets, has been called into question. In addition, the Commission now defines the reference banking markets in a manner comparable to other economic sectors. to the concept of substitutability or interchangeability. Admittedly, it immediately specifies that appreciation is difficult for banking products, but it used this notion on which the definition of a product market must be based. This change is fundamental, because it is the sign that the specificity of the control of banking concentrations, concerning the absence of definition of the reference markets, has been called into question. In addition, the Commission now defines the reference banking markets in a manner comparable to other economic sectors. because it is a sign that the specificity of the control of banking concentrations, concerning the absence of definition of reference markets, has been called into question. In addition, the Commission now defines the reference banking markets in a manner comparable to other economic sectors. because it is a sign that the specificity of the control of banking concentrations, concerning the absence of definition of reference markets, has been called into question. In addition, the Commission now defines the reference banking markets in a manner comparable to other economic sectors.

B/ The lack of specificity in the delimitation of reference banking markets

957. – It is essential to know whether in the delimitation of the banking markets, a specificity must exist. A negative answer is necessary, firstly because the Regulation does not provide for it, but also because the specific treatment of banking concentrations is in itself questionable within the framework of competition law. Thus, when it comes to defining the reference banking markets, it suffices to draw inspiration from the rules drawn up by the Commission in other sectors of the economy and to adapt them to banking activities. This delimitation initially lacked precision (1). However, the Commission has developed its reflection on the subject for certain banking and financial activities (2).

1/ An imprecise definition of reference banking markets

958. – Banking markets, like any relevant market, have two aspects. It is essential to distinguish product markets (a) from geographic markets (b).

a/ Markets for banking products

959. – The essential concept for defining any product market is substitutability. This appears very clearly in the definition of the product market given by the implementing Regulation no. 802/2004 of 07/04/2004. The relevant product market includes “all products and/or services which the consumer considers to be interchangeable or substitutable on account of their characteristics, their price and the use for which they are intended”.

Dobbiamo porci dal punto di vista del consumatore e considerare “le ragionevoli alternative” a sua disposizione, secondo le parole della Commissione. Dovrebbe essere determinato se un tale prodotto offerto da un’azienda è insostituibile per il consumatore o può essere sostituito. L’insieme dei prodotti che possono essere così sostituiti al consumatore costituisce un mercato del prodotto. Tuttavia, poiché è nell’ambito del mercato così definito che viene valutata la posizione di una società candidata alla fusione, essa ha tutto l’interesse a difendere il mercato più ampio possibile.

960. – A favore di un efficace controllo delle concentrazioni, dovrebbe essere proposta una definizione ristretta dei mercati di riferimento. In effetti, una posizione dominante sarà più facile da portare.

961. – Inoltre, quando le viene notificata una concentrazione, la Commissione deve definire meticolosamente il mercato del prodotto interessato da tale operazione ea tal fine deve descrivere le caratteristiche dei prodotti in questione. Pertanto, utilizza tutta una serie di criteri: le qualità tecniche o fisiche dei prodotti, il loro prezzo, le condizioni di concorrenza.

962. – Sembra abbastanza semplice trasporre questa analisi delle caratteristiche di un prodotto al settore bancario. Si supponga che i prodotti in questione siano OICVM. Un confronto consente agli investitori di misurare la sostituibilità di tali SICAV con altre: stesso tipo di composizione del portafoglio, stesse condizioni di acquisto e vendita, stesse condizioni fiscali. Pertanto, una valutazione al presente consente di dire se vi sia o meno sostituibilità, quindi di definire il mercato del prodotto, per poi valutare la posizione dello stabilimento interessato. In linea con la nostra argomentazione precedente, più grande è questo mercato, minori sono i rischi di trovarsi in una posizione dominante. Gli istituti di credito interessati si pronunciano pertanto a favore della sostituibilità degli OICVM.

Ma, se l’analisi delle caratteristiche di una SICAV portasse a riconoscere in essa un’originalità che nessun’altra attualmente offerta ai risparmiatori presenta, ciò potrebbe indurre la Commissione a concludere che esiste un mercato separato. Poiché questo è ristretto, il rischio di essere in una posizione dominante aumenta quindi per gli stabilimenti che distribuiscono questo prodotto.

963. – Le banche possono trovare una via d’uscita in un approccio evolutivo e dinamico all’analisi di mercato: l’istituto di credito che offre un prodotto originale non permarrà a lungo in questa posizione dominante permettendogli di fissare liberamente il prezzo. Infatti, l’osservazione del mercato bancario offre costantemente lo spettacolo dell’ingresso rapidissimo di un concorrente nel mercato di un prodotto immaginato da questo o quell’istituto.

Pertanto, anche se in un approccio statico, qualsiasi prodotto bancario è unico, perderà rapidamente questo carattere a causa dell’immissione sul mercato da parte dei concorrenti e in tempi spesso brevi, di un prodotto con caratteristiche simili. Questa possibilità di un rapido ingresso nel mercato non dovrebbe quindi essere trascurata. Gli istituti di credito sapranno senza dubbio come utilizzare questo argomento per salvare una concentrazione da una decisione di incompatibilità con il Mercato comune.

964. – In diversi casi, la Commissione ha definito i mercati secondo le condizioni di concorrenza loro proprie. Ciò presuppone un’analisi dell’organizzazione della domanda e dell’offerta.

With regard to the organization of demand, the Commission has laid down criteria for assessing the conditions of competition shaped by organizational modes specific to the market, such as the specificity of the customer base. In its Accor/Wagons-Lits decision, it considered that only motorway users can have access to motorway catering and are thus captive. Indeed, for the majority of them, they do not leave the highway when they want to have a meal.

965. – Cette méthode d’analyse est transposable au secteur bancaire. En effet, la substituabilité d’un produit justifiée par ses seules caractéristiques peut être contestée au regard de l’organisation de sa demande. Le marché du crédit en offre de multiples illustrations. Certains crédits sont distribués en fonction de l’appartenance à un réseau international de cartes de crédit, d’autres le sont par l’intermédiaire d’un réseau de mutuelles ou de coopératives. En conséquence, tel crédit offert par un établissement indépendant de tout réseau pourrait donc constituer un produit distinct de tel autre crédit identique, mais distribué selon une organisation de la demande différente. Si cette analyse est primordiale, il en est de même pour l’organisation de l’offre.

966. – Dans le domaine de la distribution, la Commission n’a pas fondé sa délimitation des marchés en fonction de la nature différente des produits, mais par rapport au type d’assortiment offert et à l’organisation de l’offre. Ainsi, dans plusieurs décisions, une distinction est faite entre les offres des petits commerces spécialisés, des petites surfaces de proximité et enfin des moyennes et grandes surfaces. C’est donc le type d’assortiment qui caractérise chaque marché ainsi que la politique de prix et de services propres à chacun de ces différents commerces.

967. – Cette logique peut s’appliquer au secteur bancaire. Certains établissements de crédit spécialisés offrent une gamme très étroite de services alors que d’autres à vocation universelle, ont une large gamme de services : crédits, dépôts, gestion de moyens de paiement, ingénierie financière, placement de valeurs mobilières… Supposons une banque spécialisée dans les opérations de haut de bilan qui propose à une clientèle ciblée, des produits très sophistiqués, et une banque universelle qui offre, elle aussi, ces mêmes produits. Dans une telle hypothèse, la Commission pourrait considérer que le marché des établissements spécialisés est distinct du marché des banques universelles, même s’il existe certains produits identiques dans les deux types d’établissement. De même, il pourrait être distingué le marché de la banque traditionnelle de la banque à distance en raison du mode d’organisation de l’offre et de la politique commerciale qui modèlent des relations particulières avec la demande.

968. – Les établissements soucieux d’éviter une délimitation étroite du marché, sont sans doute tentés de répondre à une telle analyse en invoquant la faculté de réaction de la concurrence. En effet, il peut être soutenu que dans une perspective dynamique, la banque spécialisée peut entrer sur le marché de la banque universelle. Il n’est pas sûr que cette argumentation puisse être retenue, dans ce cas, parce que l’implantation de la banque spécialisée sur le marché de la banque universelle présente de tels coûts qu’il est improbable qu’elle se fasse rapidement.

969. – Le contrôle des concentrations bancaires implique donc la nécessité de définir le marché de produits. Cela se fera en fonction des différents types d’établissements et de l’organisation de leur offre : marché des banques à réseau/marché des banques sans réseau, marché des banques universelles/marché des banques spécialisées et les sous-distinctions peuvent être multipliées.

970. – La Commission s’est engagée dans cette voie de définition des marchés de produits bancaires à partir de 1993. Le nombre important des opérations notifiées dans le secteur bancaire permet de relever jusqu’en 1997 un triptyque dans chacune des décisions de la Commission. Depuis l’opération Bank Austria/Creditanstalt de 1997, certaines décisions isolent un quatrième secteur distinct des activités générales de services bancaires aux entreprises, celui de la banque d’investissement.

Ainsi, la Commission a confirmé à l’occasion de l’acquisition de Bankers Trust par Deutsche Bank, que le secteur bancaire couvrait les services aux particuliers, les services financiers aux entreprises, la banque d’investissement, et les opérations sur les marchés monétaires ainsi que les autres instruments financiers.

Lorsque les transactions notifiées ne soulèvent pas de difficultés concurrentielles, la Commission se contente de cette division sectorielle et s’abstient, sauf exceptions, d’adopter une position plus précise sur les marchés bancaires.

971. – Selon elle, le secteur de la banque de détail regroupe les services à l’attention des particuliers et des ménages. Sont intégrées les activités liées aux systèmes de paiement et les services connexes, les comptes courants, les comptes de dépôt, l’épargne, l’épargne hors bilan, les crédits aux particuliers ainsi que le « private banking ». Cette liste d’activités est évolutive et non limitative.

972. – Per quanto riguarda i servizi bancari forniti alle imprese, le definizioni proposte dalla Commissione sono soggette a maggiori variazioni, a seconda delle decisioni, rispetto ai servizi bancari al dettaglio. Nella decisione Société Générale/Hambros Bank del 06/02/1998, ha quindi considerato che il settore bancario d’affari è suddiviso “in vari prodotti come prestiti per investimenti, prodotti a breve termine, depositi, leasing, emissioni di debito”. È probabilmente nella decisione Bank Austria/Creditanstalt che la Commissione ha descritto con maggiore precisione le attività bancarie rivolte alle imprese. Per quanto riguarda le attività di credito, la Commissione ha distinto tra segmenti di credito a breve termine ea lungo termine.

973. – Inoltre, secondo la Commissione, l’investment banking comprende i seguenti segmenti di prodotto: consulenza in materia di fusioni e acquisizioni, quotazione di società in borsa, nonché emissione di titoli societari e di partecipazione, prestiti. L’attività di emissione di debito può essa stessa essere suddivisa in diversi segmenti: emissione di debito pubblico, emissione di società ed emissione di proprie banche.

974. – Infine, nella decisione Bank Austria/Creditanstalt, la Commissione ha fornito informazioni sulla composizione dell’attività del mercato monetario e degli strumenti finanziari. Ciò include la negoziazione di azioni e obbligazioni, transazioni in prodotti derivati, nonché transazioni in valute e valute estere e altri strumenti finanziari.

Abbiamo quindi dimostrato che i criteri individuati dalla Commissione, nella sua prassi decisionale generale, sono stati facilmente trasposti ai prodotti bancari. Lo stesso vale per la nozione di mercato geografico.

b/ Mercati bancari geografici

975. – Questa è l’altra dimensione necessaria per definire il mercato di riferimento. Si tratta di delimitare lo spazio in cui le imprese interessate sono in competizione. Ai sensi dell’articolo 9 § 7 del Regolamento: “il mercato geografico di riferimento è costituito da un territorio nel quale le imprese interessate operano nella domanda e nell’offerta di beni e servizi, nel quale le condizioni di concorrenza sono sufficientemente omogenee e che possono essere distinti dai territori limitrofi, in particolare a causa delle condizioni di concorrenza significativamente diverse da quelle prevalenti in tali territori”.

976. – Prendiamo l’esempio del Crédit Agricole per sottolineare l’importanza del territorio di riferimento. Detiene, tutte le attività messe insieme, il 20% del mercato francese, il 3% del mercato europeo e lo 0,3% del mercato mondiale. A seconda delle attività considerate, l’area di riferimento deve essere locale, regionale, nazionale, europea o addirittura globale. Come per il mercato dei prodotti, maggiore è lo spazio, minore è il rischio per un’impresa di trovarsi in una posizione dominante. Questi ultimi tendono quindi a sostenere di trovarsi sul mercato geografico più ampio possibile, ragion per cui la Commissione deve garantire l’esattezza della loro affermazione.

977. – La Commission a recherché à délimiter les marchés en fonction de l’homogénéité des conditions de concurrence. Elle examine donc divers critères, notamment la structure de l’offre et celle de la demande : l’entreprise exerce-t-elle dans un environnement de proximité ou pas, et lequel ? Par exemple, la distribution de produits en gros n’opère pas sur le même espace que la distribution des mêmes produits au détail. Comme pour la définition du marché de produits, il se pose la question de savoir si cette pratique est transposable aux concentrations bancaires. La réponse est, là encore, affirmative. En effet, certaines activités bancaires sont essentiellement des activités de proximité, d’autres s’inscrivent dans un espace beaucoup plus vaste, voire mondial pour les activités sur les marchés internationaux.

978. – Occorre procedere ad una lettura congiunta del Regolamento e delle direttive che assicurino la realizzazione del mercato unico bancario e borsistico. Infatti, d’ora in poi, in linea di principio, lo spazio bancario è la Comunità. Tuttavia, ciò non significa che la Commissione sia vincolata dal concetto di un mercato bancario unico. Perché se, in virtù delle direttive di coordinamento bancario, sono state eliminate le barriere legislative, regolamentari o amministrative tra gli Stati membri, ciò non ha fatto scomparire immediatamente le caratteristiche della domanda e dell’offerta di prodotti bancari. Non tutti gli enti creditizi hanno aperto filiali in tutti gli Stati membri ei clienti non hanno cambiato le loro abitudini di prossimità, né la loro preferenza per la propria cultura bancaria nazionale. A questo proposito, la Commissione nella sua valutazione dei mercati bancari geografici di riferimento deve tener conto della rimozione degli ostacoli giuridici all’ingresso nei mercati degli Stati membri. Tuttavia, è sempre sugli elementi classici della struttura reale dell’offerta e sulle caratteristiche esatte della domanda che basa la sua analisi. Così, nella decisione della Société Générale de Belgique/Générale de Banque del 03/08/1993, relativa al finanziamento del commercio estero in Belgio, la Commissione rileva che tale mercato è aperto e concorrenziale. Non ci sono quindi barriere all’ingresso. Le banche stabilite nel resto del mercato comune iniziano a competere con le banche belghe. Inoltre, questo tipo di credito sta iniziando a fare i conti con la concorrenza di asset financing complessi, il cui mercato geografico è globale. Anzi,

979. – La prassi della Commissione in materia di definizione dei mercati geografici è ormai pressoché costante. È quindi possibile stilare una sintesi dei mercati che la Commissione considera nazionali e di quelli che considera internazionali.

980. – Tradizionalmente, la Commissione considera i mercati dei servizi bancari al dettaglio di portata nazionale. Questa analisi si basa sulle differenze nelle condizioni di concorrenza che persistono negli Stati membri nonostante la crescente tendenza all’internazionalizzazione. Entrano in gioco anche fattori come le differenze linguistiche, le preferenze dei clienti per i fornitori di servizi locali, l’importanza della rete di filiali, i costi delle transazioni e la scarsa attività transfrontaliera delle banche in Europa. Tuttavia, la situazione attuale potrebbe cambiare grazie alle nuove tecnologie e all’euro. Inoltre, questa concezione può essere discussa perché, “se in Europa il retail banking è considerato un mercato nazionale,

981. – La dimensione geografica dei servizi bancari alle imprese è più difficile da determinare e l’analisi della Commissione è più sfumata. Alcuni sono di carattere internazionale. Tuttavia, la dimensione geografica dei servizi bancari alle imprese può in alcuni casi essere limitata a un livello ancora nazionale, poiché i servizi sono spesso offerti a livello di filiali nazionali a clienti locali. In un’altra decisione, la Commissione ha ritenuto che il mercato geografico fosse di portata nazionale per i clienti PMI, ma di portata internazionale per le grandi imprese.

982. – Per l’attività sui mercati finanziari è chiaramente accertata la dimensione internazionale, se non almeno europea, del mercato geografico.

983. – Per quanto riguarda infine l’investment banking, la Commissione ritiene che tali servizi rimarranno ancora a livello nazionale nel prossimo futuro. In effetti, questi di solito richiedono una conoscenza dettagliata del diritto societario nazionale, delle strutture aziendali e delle abitudini del mercato locale. Nella sua decisione SBG/SBV del 04/03/1998, la Commissione ha precisato che, per l’attività di consulenza in materia di fusioni e acquisizioni, occorre distinguere tra l’attività stessa di consulenza di natura transfrontaliera e la prestazione di servizi offerto. Il secondo fa parte di un quadro nazionale. Nel campo del commercio di titoli, la Commissione, nella sua prassi attuale, prende in considerazione i mercati nazionali, a causa delle diverse condizioni per l’ammissione delle società alle borse valori nazionali.
Abbiamo quindi dimostrato che i tradizionali criteri di definizione dei mercati di riferimento non vengono messi in discussione dalla creazione di un mercato unico bancario. Devono però adeguarsi al mutamento della struttura della domanda e dell’offerta che il mercato unico bancario è destinato a determinare. Quindi, il movimento sembra ovvio. In primo luogo, la Commissione ha definito i mercati bancari di riferimento in modo impreciso. Poi, sotto la spinta del mercato unico, numerose concentrazioni bancarie hanno portato la Commissione ad affinare il proprio controllo su alcune attività.

2/ Affinare la segmentazione dei mercati bancari di riferimento

984. – A number of merger operations between banking establishments active in consumer credit have been notified to the European Commission since 1995. In order to highlight the existence of a separate consumer credit market, it has been noted that consumer loans are provided by specialized banking establishments to all consumers wishing to purchase goods. These are either provided as an ancillary service to the purchase of a good, or marketed directly by merchants in their store. To date, the Commission considers consumer credit services to be an integral part of the larger consumer lending banking segment.

On the national geographic dimension of the market, the Commission was able to note that the latter would be reinforced by the fact that credit and store cards are highly regulated in each Member State by legislation on consumer credit and consumer protection. . In addition, store cards are only accepted at customer retailer counters.

985. – The Commission has also considered the issue of credit to local authorities and its natural extensions. According to the Merger Task Force, there is a relevant market for credit to local authorities. This would be distinct from other banking activities, taking into account in particular the specific characteristics of the customers, the length of the loans, and the restrictive aspect of the legal rules to which the loans of local authorities obey.

This market is essentially national in scope, the demand for credit from these entities being supplied, almost entirely, by the supply of credit from financial establishments located in each Member State. In addition, local authorities, especially small ones, generally do not have the means, particularly in terms of staff, to borrow abroad. They prefer to maintain regular relations with the banks and funds present in the geographical area where they are established. Finally, the binding regulations in which the borrowing decision is based confirm, according to the Commission, the national nature of the market.

It should be noted, however, that in the CCB/CLF decision, the Commission considered that “the national character, still marked, of the credit market for local authorities is currently evolving towards a transnational market. This trend will increase and should accelerate significantly in the perspective of the changeover to the single currency”.

986. – With regard to real estate loans, in the Comptoir des entrepreneurs/La Hénin decision, the notifying parties distinguished three activities within real estate market financing services. These are real estate loans to individuals, real estate loans to businesses or local authorities as well as the financing of real estate development operations.

The Commission examined the definition of mortgage loans for real estate, when notifying the entry of Crédit local de France into the capital of Hypothekenbank Berlin. The Commission questioned the need to consider real estate mortgage loans as part of a wider product market including different categories of long-term loans. It also examined the possibility of distinguishing, as relevant product markets, mortgage loans to individuals and mortgage loans to businesses. The Commission has not settled this question, nevertheless it considers these activities, given its practice, as having a national dimension.

987. – The activity of ‘leasing’, which is often included without further precision in the commercial banking sector, tends to be considered as a separate market in certain Commission decisions.

988. – In another decision, the Commission examined the French factoring market, on which the joint venture created by Crédit Lyonnais and AGF-Euler, a subsidiary of the German insurer Allianz, had a market share of nearly 27%. On this occasion, it wondered about the definition of factoring, as proposed by the notifying parties. It is “a financial management operation by which a specialized organization manages the customer accounts of companies by acquiring their receivables, possibly guaranteeing coverage of the buyer’s risk and carrying out, if necessary, collection for its own account “. One of the findings of the Commission’s investigation was that factoring and credit insurance constitute separate markets,

989. – Finally, the Pana Agora/DG Bank decision gave the Commission the opportunity to reflect on the segmentation to be adopted in terms of asset management. These services are divided into two categories: asset management for the benefit of individuals and that for the benefit of institutions. Although the tasks performed by the asset manager are similar, there are important differences depending on the recipient of the service. First, resources and expertise are more important for institutions. This type of product is tailored to the specific needs of customers, while the types of collective management provided to individuals are very often mass products. With regard to the geographical dimension, the Commission considered that, at least as regards the management of assets for the benefit of institutional clients,

Thus, it has just been demonstrated that the definition of reference banking markets has been refined. A denial of the specificity of the control concerning the reference banking markets can therefore be observed. More broadly, with regard to the decisions rendered by the Commission, an analysis reveals a restriction of the specific nature of the control.

§ 2: Restriction of the specificity of control in the analysis of Commission decisions

990. – The decisions of the Commission, in terms of banking concentrations, are not specific in their nature compared to other sectors of the economy (A). Nevertheless, there is controversy over the specificity of the competitive analysis carried out in the banking sector by the Commission (B). Finally, concerning the use of commitments in decisions on banking mergers, a lack of specificity can also be observed (C).

A/ The lack of specificity in the nature of the decisions

991. – The analysis of decisions rendered in matters of concentrations with a Community dimension provides an opportunity to verify the legal form in which banking concentrations are carried out. In this respect, no singularity can be noted. Indeed, Article 3 § 1 of the Regulation specifies that a concentration within the meaning of the Regulation may take the form of a merger or a takeover by one or more companies. A few examples taken from among the Commission’s decisions show that proposed banking mergers take one or the other route. Mention may be made of the merger between Merita and Nordbanken. For corporate takeovers: the notification of the acquisition of control of Fortis AG by Société Générale de Belgique or the notification of the acquisition of control of CCF by HSBC are illustrative. Finally, with regard to joint takeovers, the notification by Dexia and Argentaria of the acquisition of joint control of Banco de Credito Local is representative.

992. – The Commission must establish, as for any undertaking, whether the new credit institution resulting from the concentration harms competition. After verifying that the operation falls within the scope of the Regulation by its nature and its size, it must assess whether or not it is compatible with the Common Market. Only bank combinations which do not significantly impede effective competition in the Common Market or a substantial part of it are declared compatible. 993. – The Commission examines the notification as soon as it is received.

– If it comes to the conclusion that the notified concentration is not covered by this Regulation, it shall state this by means of a decision.

– If it finds that the notified concentration, although covered by the regulation, does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market, it decides not to oppose it and declares it compatible with the common market.

– If, on the other hand, it finds that the notified concentration falls within the scope of the regulation and raises serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market, it decides to initiate the procedure. This may result in a decision declaring the concentration compatible with the common market or in a decision of incompatibility with the common market.

– If a concentration has already taken place, the Commission may order the separation of the concentrated undertakings or the termination of joint control in order to restore effective competition.

– Finally, if the parties have omitted to notify a concentration, if they have given inaccurate or distorted information when notifying them, or if they have presented the required information incompletely, the Commission may impose penalties on the banks concerned. fines by decision.

Consequently, schematically, like other sectors of the economy, the banks concerned by merger operations may be the subject of decisions which are favorable to them (1) or which are unfavorable to them (2).

1/ Decisions favorable to banks

994. – These decisions find either the inapplicability of the Regulation (a) or the compatibility of the concentration operation with the common market (b).

a/ Decisions noting the inapplicability of the Rules

995. – Of all the banking mergers notified to the Commission and covered by our analysis, some gave rise to a decision finding that they were not covered by the Regulation.

In the operation Médiobanca/Generali, the Italian bank Mediobanca had notified the increase of its participation in the insurance company Generali which rose from 5.98% to 12.84%. The Commission considered that there was no takeover and therefore that the transaction did not fall within the scope of the Regulation. The minority shareholders had, six months after the Commission’s decision, requested the reopening of the procedure. The Commission having refused, the applicants brought an action for annulment. The Court of First Instance of the European Communities rejected it, noting that the situation of the applicants had not been individually affected by the decision. In addition, considerations relating, on the one hand, to the legal certainty of economic operators and, on the other hand,

The message is clear: the judges ensure that the companies do not run the risk of having a concentration operation that the Commission has not opposed challenged at any time.

The Eurocard/Eurocheque-Europay case was the second transaction giving rise to a decision on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a). It concerned the creation project by Eurocard lnternational and Eurochèque International of a new entity: Europay International. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction did not fall within the scope of the Regulation as it did not have a Community dimension. Indeed, the total turnover achieved worldwide by all the undertakings concerned was below the threshold of ECU 5 billion set by Article 1. It was specified that, in the case of credit institutions or financial institutions, to calculate this threshold, the turnover had to be replaced by one tenth of the balance sheet total according to Article 5 § 3 a) in its wording prior to EEC Regulation No. 1310/97. Gold, the decision only referred to Article 1 and made no reference to the specific calculation basis specific to banking concentrations. However, given their activity as described in the decision, the undertakings concerned appeared to be financial institutions within the meaning of the banking directives. This is an illustration of the confusion, already mentioned, created by the Regulation by creating a specific calculation of the Community dimension of banking concentrations. In addition to the decisions set out above, rendered on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a), a large number of banking concentrations have been declared compatible with the common market. given their activity as described in the decision, the undertakings concerned appeared to be financial institutions within the meaning of the banking directives. This is an illustration of the confusion, already mentioned, created by the Regulation by creating a specific calculation of the Community dimension of banking concentrations. In addition to the decisions set out above, rendered on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a), a large number of banking concentrations have been declared compatible with the common market. given their activity as described in the decision, the undertakings concerned appeared to be financial institutions within the meaning of the banking directives. This is an illustration of the confusion, already mentioned, created by the Regulation by creating a specific calculation of the Community dimension of banking concentrations. In addition to the decisions set out above, rendered on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a), a large number of banking concentrations have been declared compatible with the common market. brought about by the Regulation by creating a specific calculation of the Community dimension of banking concentrations. In addition to the decisions set out above, rendered on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a), a large number of banking concentrations have been declared compatible with the common market. brought about by the Regulation by creating a specific calculation of the Community dimension of banking concentrations. In addition to the decisions set out above, rendered on the basis of Article 6 § 1 a), a large number of banking concentrations have been declared compatible with the common market.

b/ Decisions establishing compatibility with the common market

996. – In this case, the notified concentration operation falls under Regulation No. 139/2004 of 20/01/2004.

997. – Although covered by this Regulation, the Commission has frequently found that the merger operations notified did not raise serious doubts as to their compatibility with the common market. These decisions were taken as part of a first stage, commonly referred to as “Phase I”.

Mention may be made of a number of Commission decisions declaring operations compatible with the common market under “phase I”. Thus, let us cite the example of Crédit Lyonnais/BFG Bank on 11/01/1993, Champalimaud/BSCH on 03/08/1999, Crédit Lyonnais/Allianz-Euler/JV on 26/08/1999, Fôrenings Sparbanken/ FI-Holding/FIH of 21/10/1999 or finally HSBC/CCF of 30/05/2000.

998. – In a number of cases, the Commission considered that the notified concentration raised serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market. She then initiated the procedure. This second stage, called “phase II”, enabled him to carry out in-depth investigations. These have generally resulted in decisions of compatibility with the common market. Take, for example, the Bank Austria/Creditanstalt decision.

Consequently, we have just shown that the decisions favorable to the banks have been numerous. However, this does not mean that decisions unfavorable to the banks are not conceivable.

2/ Decisions unfavorable to banks

999. – They consist of decisions imposing pecuniary sanctions (a) as well as decisions not to authorize (b).

a/ Les décisions prononçant des sanctions pécuniaires

1000. – La Commission a le pouvoir de rendre des décisions infligeant de lourdes sanctions. Aux termes de l’article 14 du Règlement n° 139/2004, la Commission peut infliger des amendes. Tel est notamment le cas lorsque les entreprises omettent de notifier leur opération, donnent des indications ou des renseignements inexacts ou présentent des documents incomplets. Ces amendes peuvent atteindre 10 % du chiffre d’affaires total réalisé par les entreprises concernées ayant agi de « propos délibéré ou par négligence ». Tel est notamment le cas lorsque les parties à la concentration ne respectent pas leurs engagements, réalisent une concentration sans avoir préalablement obtenu l’autorisation de la Commission ou réalisent une opération déclarée incompatible.

1001. – Le troisième paragraphe de l’article 14 dispose, quant à lui, que le montant de l’amende doit être déterminé selon la nature et la gravité de l’infraction. Dans la pratique, la nature de l’infraction ne suscite aucune difficulté. Soit l’opération a été réalisée sans avoir préalablement obtenu l’autorisation de la Commission, soit l’obligation d’information n’a pas été respectée, soit enfin la concentration n’a pas été notifiée. Concernant la gravité de l’infraction, a priori, toute infraction commise par les entreprises parties à une concentration doit être considérée comme grave. D’une part, la production d’informations incomplètes et/ ou inexactes risque de fausser l’appréciation de la Commission sur la compatibilité de l’opération. D’autre part, la réalisation de la concentration sans autorisation préalable risque de porter gravement atteinte à l’équilibre concurrentiel. Certes, cette seconde catégorie d’infractions est potentiellement plus grave. Cette gravité est matérialisée par la possibilité d’infliger de plus lourdes amendes, l’article 14 § 2 du Règlement CE n° 139/2004 du 20/01/2004, permettant à la Commission d’infliger une amende pouvant s’élever à 10 % du chiffre d’affaires des entreprises concernées. Toutefois, quelle que soit la violation, celle-ci ne peut que remettre en question l’exercice d’un contrôle efficace des concentrations. En effet, elle porte directement atteinte au système communautaire de contrôle des concentrations, dont le rôle est de prévenir les dommages durables causés à la concurrence. C’est pourquoi toute infraction commise par les parties notifiantes apparaît naturellement grave, si ce n’est très grave.

1002. – Au-delà de la référence expresse à la nature et à la gravité de l’infraction, la Commission doit parfois tenir compte de la durée de la violation ainsi que d’éventuelles circonstances aggravantes ou atténuantes pour fixer le montant des sanctions.

1003. – Per quanto non previsto dal testo, può essere presa in considerazione la durata di un reato. Tale criterio deve logicamente essere preso in considerazione quando la concentrazione non viene notificata se non dopo la sua realizzazione. In questo caso, la durata è un fattore importante per valutare la gravità. Quanto più tempo intercorre tra la data in cui la Commissione è informata delle operazioni e la data della loro notifica, tanto maggiore è il danno che può essere arrecato ai consumatori. Se la valutazione di tale durata è primariamente oggettiva, cioè basata sulla determinazione matematica del numero di settimane o mesi trascorsi, essa è anche soggettiva, cioè legata al comportamento delle imprese durante tale periodo. Non c’è dubbio che la lentezza di questi ultimi nel regolarizzare la loro situazione non può che danneggiarli e indurre la Commissione a ritenere che la durata sia considerevole. L’esame delle circostanze aggravanti rivela la volontà della Commissione di darsi i mezzi, quali che siano i fatti di cui è investita, per sanzionare severamente ogni infrazione. Leggendo le decisioni recentemente adottate, due fattori sembrano costituire ancora circostanze aggravanti. Il primo fattore nasce dalla considerazione del dolo dell’impresa. Certo, la deliberata intenzione di commettere un reato costituisce indubbiamente un’aggravante che giustifica l’irrogazione di una pesante sanzione. Tuttavia, anche quando la società ha agito solo per negligenza, anche in questo caso questa mancanza di vigilanza può costituire un’aggravante. Il secondo fattore si basa sul reato stesso. Quando tale violazione deriva dall’inosservanza da parte di un’impresa dell’obbligo di fornire informazioni, la Commissione sottolinea l’importanza delle informazioni nascoste, il ritardo e la riluttanza delle imprese a trasmetterle. Il fatto che questi ultimi rispondano in modo inesatto alle richieste della Commissione che ha dichiarato incompleta la prima notifica aggrava naturalmente la violazione commessa. Quando il reato consiste nell’effettuare la concentrazione senza preventiva autorizzazione, l’aggravante può derivare dalla semplicità del problema giuridico posto. Quando tale violazione deriva dall’inosservanza da parte di un’impresa dell’obbligo di fornire informazioni, la Commissione sottolinea l’importanza delle informazioni nascoste, il ritardo e la riluttanza delle imprese a trasmetterle. Il fatto che questi ultimi rispondano in modo inesatto alle richieste della Commissione che ha dichiarato incompleta la prima notifica aggrava naturalmente la violazione commessa. Quando il reato consiste nell’effettuare la concentrazione senza preventiva autorizzazione, l’aggravante può derivare dalla semplicità del problema giuridico posto. Quando tale violazione deriva dall’inosservanza da parte di un’impresa dell’obbligo di fornire informazioni, la Commissione sottolinea l’importanza delle informazioni nascoste, il ritardo e la riluttanza delle imprese a trasmetterle. Il fatto che questi ultimi rispondano in modo inesatto alle richieste della Commissione che ha dichiarato incompleta la prima notifica aggrava naturalmente la violazione commessa. Quando il reato consiste nell’effettuare la concentrazione senza preventiva autorizzazione, l’aggravante può derivare dalla semplicità del problema giuridico posto. Il fatto che questi ultimi rispondano in modo inesatto alle richieste della Commissione che ha dichiarato incompleta la prima notifica aggrava naturalmente la violazione commessa. Quando il reato consiste nell’effettuare la concentrazione senza preventiva autorizzazione, l’aggravante può derivare dalla semplicità del problema giuridico posto. Il fatto che questi ultimi rispondano in modo inesatto alle richieste della Commissione che ha dichiarato incompleta la prima notifica aggrava naturalmente la violazione commessa. Quando il reato consiste nell’effettuare la concentrazione senza preventiva autorizzazione, l’aggravante può derivare dalla semplicità del problema giuridico posto.

1004. – La Commissione accetta altresì di tener conto dell’esistenza di circostanze attenuanti. Questi sono classici. Il riconoscimento dell’infrazione da parte delle società e la loro collaborazione con la Commissione sono pertanto presi in considerazione. Parimenti, vengono omesse le informazioni da loro trasmesse alla Fusion Task Force prima che quest’ultima ne fosse informata diversamente, come ad esempio l’assenza di danno concorrenziale derivante dalla violazione.

Le aziende temono queste sanzioni finanziarie. Lo stesso dicasi per la non autorizzazione alla concentrazione bancaria.

b/ L’ipotesi della non autorizzazione alla concentrazione bancaria

1005. – È essenziale rilevare che inizialmente tali operazioni di fusione non erano tali da pregiudicare la concorrenza, poiché il mercato bancario era molto frammentato. Ma a seguito di un vasto movimento di concentrazione, la dimensione media delle banche è notevolmente aumentata e questi attacchi sono diventati ipotizzabili. Ciò è stato significativo nella decisione Bank Austria/Creditanstalt nonché nell’operazione Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken/FS-Banken.

1006. – Tuttavia, poiché il controllo è negoziato, il rischio di incompatibilità è basso. Ad esempio, nel caso Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken/FS-Banken, le richieste della Commissione europea erano così elevate che le parti hanno preferito abbandonare il loro progetto di fusione. Quest’ultimo ha ritenuto che gli effetti positivi della fusione verrebbero meno a causa in particolare della mancanza di sinergie. Pertanto, in questo caso, non è stato posto alcun veto. Tuttavia, in sostanza, è stata la Commissione europea a far abbandonare alle parti il ​​loro progetto. Le conseguenze sono quindi esattamente le stesse che se fosse stata pronunciata una decisione di divieto. Di conseguenza, l’assenza formale di una decisione non significa che il controllo sia inoperante.

1007. – Inoltre, se le parti non abbandonano il loro progetto di fusione e non vi è soluzione, la sanzione è “l’invalidità”. Inoltre, sono ormai ipotizzabili decisioni di incompatibilità con il mercato comune in merito ad una concentrazione bancaria.

1008. – È importante precisare che le concentrazioni risultanti da fusioni e acquisizioni all’interno di uno stesso mercato possono dar luogo ad una posizione dominante su un mercato locale, nazionale o anche europeo. Questo è il caso del settore bancario.

1009. – Regarding deposit banks, the greater the bank’s market share on deposits and loans, the higher the intermediation margin. More precisely, this means that in a situation of weak competition, each bank will tend to use its market power in order to increase the rates on loans and decrease the rates on borrowings. Thus, the more a banking system is concentrated, the more it is able to generate high profits. These additional profits would result from a strengthening of the market shares of the merging firms. This reasoning shows that the setting of prices less favorable to consumers is due to the interplay of market positions. In reality, only firms that control large market shares have the power to position themselves above competitive prices. This is why concentrations between these undertakings must be controlled.

1010. – In the event of a dominant position of banks in concentrated local markets, a merger within these markets may strengthen this position and lead to behavior detrimental to competition. The fixing of unfavorable prices to consumers and quantitative or qualitative restrictions of the services offered to the public can be a perfect illustration of this analysis. Also, according to Mr. Lopez Madruga, “the Commission examines all the local implications of a concentration. If the new entity were dominant in a region, this assumption would prevent consumers from having an alternative. This would be a factor prohibiting concentration or would justify a request for commitments from credit institutions”.

1011. – A dominant position on a national market could also be conceived in certain European States, in particular the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands. For example, the Dutch banking system was the first in Europe to achieve its concentration in the early 1990s. In total, the first three banking groups hold 90% of the Dutch banking market. A merger between these economic operators would therefore result in the creation of a dominant position on the Dutch national market which would be incompatible with the single market.

Consequently, “the Commission would assess the ‘network effect’ and make an analysis of market shares in the main market segments”. Competitive analysis in the control of banking concentrations therefore involves key issues.

B/ The controversy concerning the specificity of competitive analysis in the banking system

1012. – If a controversy exists concerning the specificity of certain tests carried out by the European Commission (1), it is certain that the assessment of possible unilateral effects in the banking sector is not specific (2).

1/ The controversy concerning the specificity of certain tests

1013. – There is controversy over the specificity of the criteria for assessing market power (a) and over the dominance threshold in the banking sector (b).

a/ Questioning the specificity of the criteria for assessing market power

1014. – Nel modulo di notifica compilato dalle parti di concentrazione si indica che le stime delle quote di mercato delle parti e dei concorrenti devono essere fornite in valore e in volume. Per i servizi bancari, la Commissione ha tenuto conto di una serie di criteri di valutazione della quota di mercato più appropriati. Uno dei criteri utilizzati consiste nel conoscere il “rango” della banca a livello nazionale, europeo o mondiale, in particolare in termini di bilancio, capitale e attivo. Oltre a questi criteri di base, la Commissione tiene principalmente conto, per i servizi bancari al dettaglio, del rango legato al valore dei crediti e dei depositi dei partecipanti alla concentrazione. Per i servizi bancari alle imprese, la Commissione tiene conto dei “prestiti alle imprese” e dei “conti correnti con clienti imprese”. Per quanto riguarda l’investment banking o le attività sui mercati monetari, la Commissione tiene conto delle “classifiche” perché riflettono adeguatamente la posizione di mercato delle società coinvolte in tale attività. Per le attività di gestione patrimoniale, il numero di clienti è anche un indicatore dell’attività nel mercato di riferimento. Questo adattamento della valutazione delle quote di mercato al settore bancario non modifica tuttavia la filosofia di controllo della Commissione, improntata al pragmatismo. Sebbene l’approccio differisca leggermente, la valutazione rimane equivalente a quella effettuata negli altri settori dell’economia. il numero di clienti è anche un indicatore dell’attività nel mercato di riferimento. Questo adattamento della valutazione delle quote di mercato al settore bancario non modifica tuttavia la filosofia di controllo della Commissione, improntata al pragmatismo. Sebbene l’approccio differisca leggermente, la valutazione rimane equivalente a quella effettuata negli altri settori dell’economia. il numero di clienti è anche un indicatore dell’attività nel mercato di riferimento. Questo adattamento della valutazione delle quote di mercato al settore bancario non modifica tuttavia la filosofia di controllo della Commissione, improntata al pragmatismo. Sebbene l’approccio differisca leggermente, la valutazione rimane equivalente a quella effettuata negli altri settori dell’economia.

1015. – La Commissione definisce i mercati bancari come di dimensione almeno nazionale. Un tale approccio non esclude, se necessario, come in qualsiasi altro settore dell’economia, che si cerchi di studiare anche gli effetti di una concentrazione a livello infranazionale. Nonostante l’aumento delle operazioni nel settore bancario europeo, il cui livello di concentrazione è di conseguenza notevolmente aumentato, la Commissione ha talvolta esaminato l’impatto dell’operazione a livello locale, tenendo conto in particolare dell’effetto rete. Pertanto, al momento dell’acquisizione di Générale de Banque da parte di Fortis, la quota di mercato congiunta delle parti della concentrazione era inferiore al 35% a livello nazionale. Rappresentava circa il 20-25% delle attività, tra il 28% e il 33% dei depositi e tra il 26 e il 33% dei prestiti nel sistema bancario belga. La Commissione ha osservato che il mercato è rimasto competitivo, data la presenza di concorrenti quali BBL, KBC e CCB. Tuttavia, ha tenuto conto dell’effetto rete della concentrazione in tutte le province e regioni del Belgio. Pertanto, essa ha rilevato che lo stabilimento risultante dalla concentrazione avrebbe detenuto tra il 24 e il 28% delle succursali nelle Fiandre occidentali, tra il 35 e il 39% delle succursali nell’Hainaut ea Namur/Brabante vallone. Anche se la nuova entità dispone della più grande rete in Belgio, la Commissione ha ritenuto che ciò non le conferisse una posizione dominante, in quanto i consumatori dispongono di un numero sufficiente di sportelli bancari concorrenti. Oltretutto, ha tenuto conto dell’effetto rete della concentrazione in tutte le province e regioni del Belgio. Pertanto, essa ha rilevato che lo stabilimento risultante dalla concentrazione avrebbe detenuto tra il 24 e il 28% delle succursali nelle Fiandre occidentali, tra il 35 e il 39% delle succursali nell’Hainaut ea Namur/Brabante vallone. Anche se la nuova entità dispone della più grande rete in Belgio, la Commissione ha ritenuto che ciò non le conferisse una posizione dominante, in quanto i consumatori dispongono di un numero sufficiente di sportelli bancari concorrenti. Oltretutto, ha tenuto conto dell’effetto rete della concentrazione in tutte le province e regioni del Belgio. Pertanto, essa ha rilevato che lo stabilimento risultante dalla concentrazione avrebbe detenuto tra il 24 e il 28% delle succursali nelle Fiandre occidentali, tra il 35 e il 39% delle succursali nell’Hainaut ea Namur/Brabante vallone. Anche se la nuova entità dispone della più grande rete in Belgio, la Commissione ha ritenuto che ciò non le conferisse una posizione dominante, in quanto i consumatori dispongono di un numero sufficiente di sportelli bancari concorrenti. Oltretutto, la Commissione ha ritenuto che ciò non le conferisse una posizione dominante, in quanto i consumatori dispongono di un numero sufficiente di sportelli bancari concorrenti. Oltretutto, la Commissione ha ritenuto che ciò non le conferisse una posizione dominante, in quanto i consumatori dispongono di un numero sufficiente di sportelli bancari concorrenti. Oltretutto,

Di conseguenza, i criteri di valutazione del potere di mercato degli enti creditizi possono essere paragonati a quelli utilizzati in altri settori dell’economia. Lo stesso vale per la valutazione della posizione dominante nel settore bancario.

b/ L’assenza di una specifica soglia di dominanza nel settore bancario

1016. – Nello studio della prassi della Commissione europea occorre distinguere tra posizione dominante individuale (α) e posizione dominante collettiva (β).

α/ Dominanza individuale

1017. – Talune tensioni nazionali, in occasione di concentrazioni di enti creditizi, potrebbero suggerire che in tema di servizi ed in particolare di servizi ai privati, vi sarebbe una specifica soglia, relativa alla posizione dominante.

1018. – È nella decisione BankAustria/Creditanstalt che la Commissione ha sollevato per la prima volta la questione della posizione dominante nel settore bancario. In occasione dell’acquisizione del controllo esclusivo di Creditanstalt-Bankverein da parte di Bank Austria, la Commissione ha ritenuto che “quote di mercato pari o superiori al 30%, in circostanze specifiche e in presenza di gravi ostacoli all’ingresso nel mercato giustificassero il rischio di creare un posizione dominante e ha richiesto un esame approfondito dei mercati interessati”. Tale conclusione si basa sul fatto che “tali mercati sono caratterizzati da specifiche condizioni istituzionali e giuridiche; i mercati dei servizi bancari sono in particolare nettamente differenziati dalle condizioni di concorrenza,

1019. – La Commission a examiné la position de Bank Austria et Creditanstalt, les deux principaux établissements bancaires universels nationaux, ainsi que celle des principaux établissements de crédit établis en Autriche. Elle a estimé que le risque de position dominante était bien présent en l’espèce. Les effets de cette concentration ont été étudiés, notamment pour les services bancaires aux particuliers, les services aux entreprises et la banque d’investissement. Ainsi, elle a pu noter que la nouvelle entité disposerait d’une part de marché comprise entre 20 et 30 % sur les activités de services aux particuliers. Pour les services bancaires aux entreprises, les parts de marché étaient plus importantes encore, l’entité résultant de la concentration disposant de parts comprises entre 25 % et 40 % sur l’ensemble des segments. La Commission a relevé que les marchés de services financiers aux particuliers en Autriche présentaient de sérieuses barrières à l’entrée, compte tenu de la nécessité de disposer sur place d’un réseau dense d’agences. En règle générale, les clients particuliers entretiennent des relations commerciales avec une seule banque. Changer d’établissement engendre des coûts de transaction et d’information qui justifient l’attachement d’un client à une banque. En outre, la mobilité des clients des banques est réduite, dans la mesure où l’entretien de relations avec plusieurs banques et le partage des actifs sur plusieurs banques détériorent les possibilités de recours au crédit. Sur la base de ce constat, la Commission en a conclu que la « reprise », par les concurrents, de relations commerciales entretenues depuis de nombreuses années avec les particuliers, ne pourrait se faire, à une large échelle, qu’à long terme. Selon la Commission, contrairement aux services aux particuliers, les services bancaires aux entreprises sont moins standardisés et sont souvent adaptés aux besoins spécifiques des clients, sur la base de conditions négociées. En outre, les coûts de transaction et d’information liés au changement d’établissement ne sont pas aussi élevés. Assurément, les entreprises clientes développent des volumes de transactions plus importants et entretiennent en général des relations commerciales avec plusieurs banques. La Commission a considéré dans l’affaire Bank Austria/Creditanstalt qu’il existait sur ces marchés, des risques de création ou de renforcement de position dominante, compte tenu notamment de l’absence de forte alternative à la nouvelle entité, tant au niveau national qu’au niveau étranger.

1020. – Selon un auteur, la pratique décisionnelle de la Commission aurait ainsi permis d’identifier une spécificité de la dominance dans le secteur bancaire. Un seuil de part de marché de 30 % aurait été mis en évidence pour ces types de services. Il serait nettement moins élevé que celui à partir duquel des difficultés concurrentielles pourraient survenir, en termes de position dominante, dans les secteurs de biens industriels et de consommation ainsi que dans les autres secteurs de services.

1021. – Cependant, retenir cette interprétation, revient à accepter que la seule analyse des parts de marché permet de mesurer le caractère concurrentiel d’un secteur. Ceci est, à notre avis, très contestable. En effet, les études économiques montrent que la concurrence sur des marchés relativement concentrés peut être dans certains cas, plus forte que sur des marchés fortement concurrentiels. Les marchés à concurrence pure et parfaite ne sont pas nécessairement les plus concurrentiels, pour peu que le terme de concurrence soit entendu comme processus et non comme état. Il convient de faire intervenir la notion de contestabilité pour mesurer la concurrence effective d’un marché. Les difficultés résultent du fait que la contestabilité est appréciée à l’aide des concepts de barrières à l’entrée et de conditions de sorties. Un marché contestable est un marché sur lequel les derniers arrivés n’ont pas de handicap de coût par rapport aux opérateurs installés et que les acteurs peuvent quitter avec un faible coût.

1022. – Par conséquent, selon Monsieur Joaquin Lopez Madruga, ce seuil de part de marché de 30 % ne constitue pas une limite à ne pas franchir, mais représente un indicateur de dominance parmi d’autres. La Commission considérera qu’il y a dominance si plusieurs éléments significatifs le prouvent. Il n’existe donc pas un seuil de dominance spécifique au secteur bancaire. Il convient d’examiner les concentrations de manière casuistique car, dans un secteur dynamique, l’appréciation ne sera pas la même que dans un secteur où il existe un oligopole. Par exemple, une part de marché de 30 % dans le secteur bancaire autrichien ne peut être appréciée de la même façon qu’une part mathématiquement égale sur le marché belge. Ainsi, dans des décisions récentes d’autorisations de concentrations en Belgique, ce seuil de part de marché était dépassé sans que cela ne suscite de difficultés particulières. Dans l’affaire Merita/Nordbanken, il a été examiné les parts de marché des deux établissements de crédit sur les différents marchés de référence. Un constat fut celui de la « complémentarité géographique ». Le chevauchement était donc très faible. Bien que Merita totalisât sur certains segments des parts de marché supérieures à 40 %, l’appréciation concurrentielle ne posa pas de difficulté.

Par conséquent, nous avons pu démontrer l’absence de seuil de dominance spécifique au secteur bancaire. Nous allons, dès à présent, mettre en évidence l’absence de spécificité en ce qui concerne la dominance collective dans le secteur bancaire.

β/ La dominance collective

1023. – L’attività bancaria è svolta su mercati oligopolistici. Un mercato oligopolistico è definito dalla presenza sul mercato di un numero relativamente ridotto di fornitori. In un tale contesto competitivo, ogni oligopolista è tenuto a tenere in notevole considerazione le azioni e le reazioni dei suoi rivali nelle sue decisioni relative in particolare ai prezzi. Questa è un’interdipendenza strategica tra le imprese. Pertanto, esiste una posizione dominante collettiva quando le imprese hanno insieme, in particolare, il potere di adottare la stessa linea di azione sul mercato e di agire in misura considerevole indipendentemente dai concorrenti, dai clienti e dai consumatori. Questa definizione non spiega le condizioni necessarie affinché vi sia una posizione dominante collettiva.

1024. – It is therefore essential to have a methodology and relevant criteria that make it possible to determine, in a prospective analysis, whether a concentration is capable of creating or strengthening a collective dominant position. The fundamental difficulty encountered in the notion of collective dominance is that the analysis is based on a characteristic anticipation not only of the market but also of the behavior of operators. This assessment is all the more delicate in that it concerns formally isolated and non-dominant operators. On the other hand, associated with each other, they have a dominant position. In reality, these companies present themselves on the market substantially as a single entity and not with their individuality.

1025. – L’esistenza di una posizione dominante collettiva può essere determinata utilizzando indicatori non specifici del sistema bancario. Inoltre, la soglia di dominanza collettiva non è soggetta a specificità nel sistema bancario, anche se questa affermazione è controversa.

– La mancanza di specificità degli indicatori di posizione dominante collettiva

1026. – To determine whether a concentration creates or reinforces collective dominance, a precise examination of the circumstances is necessary. This assessment is based on structural indicators which, alone and in interaction with each other, should allow the case to be assessed as clearly and precisely as possible, within the framework of an overall analysis. However, in each case, it will be a question of refining the examination in order to ensure a strong probability of creation or strengthening of a collective dominant position. Such an exercise will require taking into account behavioral indicators.

1027. – The indicators used as proof of the existence of collective dominance in the banking system are no different from those used in other economic sectors.

1028. – Indicators relate to the general functioning of the market. First, there is the existence of high barriers to market access. In principle, they restrict potential competition and may encourage the adoption of collusive behavior between current competitors. Then it’s about transparency in a market. It allows banks to more easily monitor the behavior of their competitors and thus facilitates the adoption of collusive behavior. Finally, the adoption of collusive behavior will be favored in relatively stable and predictable sectors characterized in particular by a fixed market structure.

1029. – There are also indicators based on the demand situation. On the one hand, a market characterized by weak demand growth will not encourage new competitors to enter the market. Similarly, existing competitors will not adopt an aggressive strategy to capture additional demand in such a zero-sum game situation. On the other hand, when demand-side actors hold some market power, it may be more difficult for players to initiate and sustain collusive behavior. Conversely, collective domination should be all the more likely in a concentrated market when the other side of the market is more dispersed. However, it cannot be ruled out that, in certain cases, strong consumer power may encourage suppliers,

1030. – In addition, there are indicators based on the supply situation. First, close ties between oligopolists play a large role in determining collective dominance. On the one hand, the existing links between the oligopolists, such as personal or capital links, increase the probability of parallel restrictive behavior of competition. Moreover, this applies both to links on the market concerned by the concentration and to those on third markets. On the other hand, past relationships and, in particular, past cooperation, can also be a factor encouraging collusive behavior. Second, in certain cases, the similarity of the market shares of the oligopolists can facilitate the creation of such dominance. On the other hand, an asymmetrical distribution of market shares in no way presumes the impossibility of collective dominance. Finally, the stability of market shares between companies can be an indicator showing the lack of dynamics in competitive relations on the market in question. Third, a high level of concentration favors the meeting of oligopolists. However, collective dominance cannot be concluded simply on the basis of a high level of concentration. It is also a question of examining the supply of substitution, that is to say the competitors external to the set formed by the companies in collective dominance. Moreover, it is difficult to determine a level of concentration above which a collective dominance is almost established. Of course, this precision applies to the banking system.

– The lack of specificity of the collective dominance threshold in the banking system

1031. – Collective dominance is an economic phenomenon which results from the play of strategic interdependencies between the oligopolists. In order to achieve collective dominance, this interdependence results in the adoption of collusive behavior at the end of which the oligopolists form a single entity on the market.

1032. – The main difficulty is to determine whether a concentration leads to the creation or strengthening of collective dominance which hinders effective competition. This raises the problem of the collective dominance threshold in the banking system.

1033. – Come abbiamo precedentemente precisato, esiste una controversia sulla specificità della soglia di dominanza bancaria. Sarebbe inferiore a quello da cui potrebbero derivare difficoltà concorrenziali, in termini di posizione dominante, nei settori dei beni industriali e di consumo nonché negli altri settori dei servizi. Ma secondo Joaquin Lopez Madruga, questa soglia di quota di mercato del 30% non è un limite che non dovrebbe essere superato, ma rappresenta un indicatore di posizione dominante tra gli altri. Non esiste quindi una soglia di posizione dominante specifica per il settore bancario.

1034. – Per quanto riguarda il problema della posizione dominante collettiva, occorre anzitutto rilevare la difficoltà di determinare un livello di concentrazione al di sopra del quale possa essere stabilita con certezza una posizione dominante collettiva.

1035. – Per quanto riguarda più specificamente il sistema bancario, si potrebbe ritenere che la soglia di dominanza collettiva sia inferiore rispetto ad altri settori dell’economia. Questa affermazione è discutibile nel presupposto che si stima che non esista una soglia di dominanza specifica per il sistema bancario. Ovviamente, parallelamente in questo caso, la soglia di dominanza collettiva non può essere colta come specifica.

Pertanto, è probabile che una concentrazione bancaria crei o rafforzi una posizione dominante collettiva. Questo apprezzamento viene effettuato in modo simile ad altri settori dell’economia. Lo stesso vale per la valutazione di eventuali effetti unilaterali.

2/ La mancanza di specificità nella valutazione dei possibili effetti unilaterali nel settore bancario

1036. – Il regolamento n. 139/2004 consente alla Commissione europea di ricercare effetti unilaterali. Viene infatti specificato che una concentrazione deve essere vietata se ostacola in modo significativo una concorrenza effettiva. Il test comprende quindi tutti gli effetti anticoncorrenziali nei mercati oligopolistici in cui l’impresa risultante dalla concentrazione non sarebbe dominante nel senso stretto del termine.

1037. – Indubbiamente, in talune situazioni di oligopolio, il rischio essenziale di restrizione della concorrenza risiede nella capacità delle imprese partecipanti alla concentrazione di aumentare i propri prezzi senza dover tener conto di altri operatori o clienti.

1038. – Ad esempio, una società partecipante ad una concentrazione può aumentare i propri prezzi senza incorrere in una conseguente perdita di clientela perché questa si trasferisce sui prodotti fabbricati dall’altra società partecipante alla concentrazione. In tal caso, l’operazione crea di fatto un effetto contrario al mantenimento della concorrenza.

1039. – Tutta la difficoltà nell’applicare la teoria degli effetti unilaterali risiede nella corretta valutazione dei meccanismi di differimento della domanda che potrebbe verificarsi tra i due soggetti di una concentrazione.

1040. – Inoltre, possono sussistere effetti unilaterali quando l’impresa riesce ad alzare il livello dei prezzi riducendo unilateralmente il volume della sua produzione. In questa ipotesi, i concorrenti non sono in grado di aumentare le proprie capacità produttive per assorbire la domanda. Pertanto, l’impresa può aumentare i prezzi e, poiché i suoi concorrenti hanno una capacità limitata, anche la perdita di domanda è limitata.

1041. – È certo che la Commissione valuterà gli effetti unilaterali di una concentrazione bancaria in maniera comparabile ad altri settori economici.

Dans l’hypothèse où la Commission détectera d’éventuels effets unilatéraux de la part du nouvel établissement de crédit, elle exigera un engagement afin de résoudre les difficultés concurrenti