Société Générale Solvent, Greece Exposure Limited: CEO
Société Générale CEO Frederic Oudéa once again dismissed rumors about his bank's solvency, saying exposure to the sovereign debtof Europe's troubled nations is limited.
The bank's exposure to the peripheral countries, including Greece, totals 900 million euros ($1.2 billion), the head of France's second-largest bank told CNBC Monday. "Whatever happens in Greece is not an issue for Société Générale," which has 41 billion euros [$55.7 billion] in capital, Oudéa said.
Its total exposure to the so-called GIPS (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) countries is 4.3 billion euros ($5.8 billion), he said.
Rumors about the bank have been circulating for months; Oudéa denied rumors about the bank's solvency on CNBC in August.
SoGen said earlier Monday it would cut costs and sell assets to free up 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in fresh capital. The surprise move failed to halt massive selling in French bank shares, driven by fears of a Greek debt default.
Oudéa told CNBC that besides the asset sales, the bank would be cutting costs and reducing staff.
"We just announced a willingness to adjust our business model," he said. "There is this fear about the euro zone and the need for the European banking system to adapt to new rules, but you can’t do that in just one day. We have to have a transition period. We will be very active in managing this transition period, but we need a minimum amount of time."
Oudéa said the bank has been shrinking its balance sheet over the last two years. “We've reduced significantly the risk in our balance sheet in terms of capital markets,” he said. “We've the lowest level of market risk ever, which has enabled us to fair this period of turbulence pretty well, in my view."
On news of Moody’s potential downgrade of French banks, Oudéa maintained that “Moody’s might realign its rating with the other agencies, but nothing more than that, so we are waiting for the decision.”
The full CNBC interview with Frederic Oudea can be seen beginning at 3 p.m. ET during The Closing Bell.
-- CNBC senior producer Lulu Chiang and producer Donna Burton contributed to this post.