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July 9, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:03pm


By CBR Staff Writer

European services giant Sema Group Plc is to merge with Financiere Sema SA, the financing vehicle behind France Telecom, in a move that would free Sema from restrictions that have prevented it expanding in the US. Financiere Sema’s shareholders are France Telecom, which has a 50.1% stake and may soon be made public (CI No 3,192) and French banking group Paribas SA with a 49.9% share. Financiere Sema is the largest shareholder in Sema and, when the deal goes ahead, it will be as a restructuring move as no money will actually be exchanged. Financiere Sema will be dissolved and its interest in Sema will be replaced by direct interests of 20.62% held by Paribas and 20.55% held by France Telecom,. Sema has also said it is it will acquire the remaining interests that France Telecom has in its facilities management operations in the UK and France. This will give it complete control of the operation. Paribas has been in control of the voting rights Financiere Sema’s shareholding in Sema Group, and this has constrained Sema’s operations in the US because, under US banking law, Sema is deemed to be a subsidiary of a banking institution. Sema Group will be free from the constraints now because Paradis will own less than 25% of the company. Marie-Claude Bessis, Sema’s corporate communication manager, said it is essential for Sema to be able to expand into the US because its competitors are already there. She described the international merger as a big relief and said the company is looking forward to implementing telecommunications and financial services. The deal will be finalised when UK-based Sema publishes its financial results on September 1, subject to legal approval

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