Crédit Agricole, a French-based international banking group with more than fifty-two million customers and a presence in fifty countries, is among the three largest banks in France and one of the largest globally. Crédit Agricole also has a dozen international financial and banking subsidiaries It is controlled by SAS Rue La Boétie, a representative holding body of the French regional banks, which owns between 56 and 57 percent of its stock. In a complex structure, Crédit Agricole owns 25 percent of these same regional banks.
Crédit Agricole’s Moroccan subsidiaries, Groupe Crédit Agricole du Maroc and Crédit du Maroc (in which Crédit Agricole owns 78.7 percent stock), operate multiple bank branches in Western Sahara. In addition, in 2012, Groupe Crédit Agricole’s affiliate Wafasalaf (49 percent stake) opened a new branch in Laayoune (Western Sahara) to provide consumer credit services.Wafasalaf is controlled by Attijariwafa Bank (51 percent), a Moroccan bank that has branches in Dakhla (also in Western Sahara) and Laayoune. Spain’s Santander Bank holds a minority stake (~5 percent) and a seat on the board of directors (see section 1.3, Santander Group).
At least one-third of the credit banks in Dakhla and Laayoune are branches of Groupe Crédit Agricole du Maroc, Crédit du Maroc, Watasalaf/Attijariwafa, and other affiliates. These companies provide essential financial services that facilitate Morocco’s presence in the region.