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French drop AIB buy-up

FRENCH banking giant Societe Generale has left the race to buy Allied Irish Bank's (AIB) Polish unit.

The bank had expressed interest in Bank Zachodni WBK but has pulled out of the race for its purchase along with French rivals BNP Paribas.

The news clears the way for the Polish government, who are trying to assemble a joint bid with local state-owned financial groups for AIB's 70pc stake.

Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported that Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank, won't bid for the AIB stake.

SocGen declined to comment, it said. The paper also said other companies that had expressed an interest in bidding had withdrawn because of the European debt crisis.

Baudouin Prot, chief executive of France's biggest bank, BNP Paribas, said recently in an interview that he had "no" interest in Bank Zachodni.

Both Paris-listed groups were understood to be among a raft of large European banks to have run the rule over Bank Zachodni since AIB officially put it up for sale at the end of March.

AIB was forced to put its Polish interest on the market following demands from the Financial Regulator that the group raise €7.4bn by the end of this year in order to hit new regulatory capital targets.