Societe Generale SA has applied for an Australian banking license as it prepares to restart its onshore lending business, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The French bank wound down much of its Australian business in 2010, when it shifted its foreign exchange and commodities trading from Sydney to Hong Kong, giving up its local deposit-taking license a few years later. But Societe Generale retained a Sydney office, and over the past couple of years has gradually been rebuilding its presence. In 2015, for example, it set up a local infrastructure financial advisory team.
Societe Generale has been actively involved in the booming Australian renewable energy sector, though its lending to the projects has taken place from offshore centers such as Hong Kong. The Paris-based bank was part of the loan syndicate for a wind energy project at Stockyard Hill in Western Victoria, and for a solar power project at Bungala in South Australia.
On March 12 the lender registered a new business name Societe Generale Sydney Branch according to documents filed with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.
A Hong Kong-based spokesman for the French bank declined to comment on the license application or the reasons for registering the new business name.
“We are committed to the Australian market, and look forward to exploring new opportunities that are consistent with our model and regulatory set up,” the spokesman said.