Morocco is selling 20 per cent of BCP to the regional offices of the bank - the 10 Banques Populaires Regionales, a move which raises their stake in BCP to 37 per cent. The Ministery of Economy and Finance claimed the move would boost the bank's development and allow the regional branches to play a greater role in the devolution of power to the regions.
Rabat – BCP shares had been suspended on the Casablanca bourse on Friday, 20 May ahead of the announcement. It appears that the price at which the stake in the bank is changing hands offers neither a premium to the government nor a discount to the regional banks.
Although the sale of the stake in BCP has come as a surprise to many, it had been known that the Moroccan Government would be looking to sell assets.
The state is struggling to contain a burgeoning budget deficit at the same time as spending is rising sharply in response to public protests At end-March, the Moroccan budget deficit was running at MAD 6.3 billion ($785 million), against MAD 5.2 billion ($648 million) in the red a year ago; and this figure does not take into account the public sector wage rise that took effect in May.
Although over all bank lending rose by only 4.7 per cent annualized in Q1 2011, down from growth of 15 per cent in Q1 2010, loans to the Treasury rose 9.7 per cent (1.1 per cent in Q1 2010).
In the meantime, King Mohammed‘s promised package of constitutional reform is due to be submitted for approval next month before a referendum in July, scheduled to be followed by parliamentary elections before October.