CGU, THE UK composite insurer is keen to reopen talks about a joint banking- insurance venture in France with Societe Generale when the dust settles after the six-month bid battle which ended at the weekend. The COB, the French stock market regulator, last night agreed to let CGU keep the 3.9 per cent of SG it bought in an attempt to keep SG out of the clutches of Banque Nationale de Paris. The shares will held in escrow until the end of November, although CGU will be allowed to sell them to "unconnected" third parties after 29 September. CGU has ruled out a merger with SocGen: "That has never been our intention. What we have talked about is a valuable and coherent joint operation in France," said Philip Twyman, finance director, yesterday.