After Metz in 2019, on the grounds of Crédit Agricole de Lorraine, it is in Montpellier that the assembly of shareholders of the green bank is taking place this year, after two virtual GAs in 2020 and 2021. We are following this meeting online, unfortunately not being able to move us.
The chairman, Dominique Lefebvre, immediately gave the floor to the chairman of the Caisse régionale du Languedoc, Daniel Connart. He describes his region with a beautiful accent, its geography, its history, its culture, its vineyard (the largest in France and Europe in area), without forgetting its start-ups like Swile. He concludes by quoting Yves Barsalou, former president of the group and originally from Aude: “ Crédit Agricole is like the Marshall Plan tractors, there is no turning back “. It is now the CEO of the Caisse du Languedoc (listed on the stock exchange) who is at the microphone. An investment plan of 400 million euros over four years has been initiated, towards the equity of client companies, renewable energies, real estate and branch networks.
Dominique Lefebvre in turn unfolds his introductory speech. He first evokes the situation of the 2,300 employees of Crédit Agricole Ukraine faced with ” a war that arouses fear and consternation » and that of the 150 Cacib employees in Russia, « caught in the turmoil of a fratricidal conflict “. Regarding climate issues, he regrets that the bank is ” sometimes taken to task on the reality and sincerity of its commitment ” and ” the means it mobilizes for the transition to a low-carbon economy are minimized “.
Financing of renewable energies
The general manager, Philippe Brassac, takes the floor. He greets ” the performance of employees in Ukraine, in a territory subjected to the atrocities of war » and says that those of Cacib in Russia express their « solidarity with their Ukrainian colleagues “. Regarding digitization, he remarks that, during the health crisis, “ no PGE has been granted by a digital bank ” and ” human responsibility must remain accessible nearby “. Without focusing solely on the most profitable territories and customers, the group obtains a return on equity that is higher than the average of other European banks. Crédit Agricole SA is not considered to be a systemic bank (this is however the case for the entire group, regional banks included), which is ” a real benefit for shareholders because the regulatory capital requirement is lower. Regarding the energy transition, Philippe Brassac says that he ” respects NGOs and their critics, without which the sense of urgency would not be the same ” but that ” Since the Paris Agreements, Crédit Agricole is the only one of the 30 largest banks in the world to finance more green than brown, and is the leader in financing renewable energies in France “. However, he does not intend to abandon the economy as it is today, because that would cause prices to explode. Finally, he reminds shareholders that the catch-up of the dividend for 2019 (prohibited by the ECB) will be completed next year, with a new supplement of 0.2 euro.
Intervention now by Eric Campos, director of the societal project. A climate strategy was adopted in June 2019. The bank asked the client companies concerned to provide it with a plan to phase out thermal coal. Financing for this sector represents less than 2% of that allocated to energy production, while 29% relates to renewable energies. He gives examples in Languedoc.
The Deputy CEO in charge of finance, Jérôme Grivet, unfolds the 2021 accounts, highlighting the strength of the balance sheet. He says that the proposed dividend of 1.05 euros includes 0.85 euros linked to the usual distribution policy of 50% of the result and an additional 0.2 euros in respect of 2019, in catch-up.
A video is shown on executive compensation. 60% of the annual bonus is deferred over five years and subject to performance conditions. For Philippe Brassac, the fixed is stable at 1 million euros and the 2021 bonus is 1.32 million (+ 11.2%).
A video presents the three director candidates. The board is made up of 21 members, with 44% women, including Christine Lambert, president of the FNSEA.
We move on to questions.
The FCPE representative of employee shareholders defends resolution A which was not approved by the Board. It consists of offering a discount of 30% when issuing shares reserved for employees, instead of the usual 20% and between 0% and 30% as indicated in resolution 32.
Question on the financing of a gas development in Mozambique. Gas exploitation would fuel the conflict. Philippe Brassac replies that any draw is suspended on the financing set up in 2020.
New intervention by an NGO calling for the rapid cessation of all oil and gas financing. The loan to TotalEnergies is mentioned, as already during the BNP Paribas GA. Philippe Brassac recalls that this loan to Total is short-term to finance margin calls. He does not appreciate that the bank is ” presented as polluting on social networks » and criticizes the speaker for not « never talk about renewable energy financing “. He is applauded by the room. The DG repeats that he ” does not intend to make the decision to stop financing what drives the economy today “.
Question about the margin that would have been made on the PGEs, whose rates were not zero. Philippe Brassac says that on the contrary ” the margin was negative when integrating network operating costs and that the bank took a risk on the 10% not guaranteed by the State, or 15 billion euros.
We go to the vote with a quorum of 77.33%.
Philippe Brassac’s 2021 compensation obtains 92.2% of the vote.
Issues reserved for employees are approved with 98.7% of the votes. On the other hand, resolution A (higher discount of 30% for employees) obtained only 5.469% of the votes.