Companies threaten to pull cash out of French banks

Confidence in the French banking system is eroding, and a number of international companies are thinking of withdrawing funds from some of the country’s beleaguered banks.

Match.com, the American online dating company, has suggested its newly acquired French online dating service Meetic move its cash from a French bank to an American one. The new American owners of Meetic were “worried” about where Meetic’s cash was being kept, according to the company’s founder Marc Simoncini.

Simoncini, who set up Meetic in 2005 and remains a 7% shareholder in the company, revealed Match.com’s concern in an interview with French radio station BCM Business. The interviewer’s response was one of shock: “incredible,” she replied.

This revelation follows speculation that the German conglomerate Siemens withdrew €500m from the struggling French bank Sociéte Générale. The Financial Times recently reported that Siemens may have withdrawn the money from Sociéte Générale due to concerns about its liquidity situation.

Before this disclosure was made, the chairman and chief executive of Sociéte Générale, Frédéric Oudéa, had attempted to assuage fears about the bank’s stability. Oudéa released a presentation on September 12th claiming the bank’s sovereign exposure was “low, declining and manageable” while its banking model was “robust and diversified”.

Oudéa’s efforts have not prevented Sociéte Générale’s share price from continuing its steep decline to €16.93 at the time of writing, a near 60% drop in value in just three months from €40.17.

Simoncini did not divulge which French bank currently holds Meetic’s assets.

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