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    UPDATE 2-BNP profits hit by 2 bln eur Greek charge



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    UPDATE 2-BNP profits hit by 2 bln eur Greek charge

    Post  Magdalene on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:32 am

    PARIS, Nov 3 (Reuters) - France's biggest listed bank BNP Paribas reported a 72 percent slide in quarterly earnings on Thursday after booking a bigger-than-expected 2 billion euro ($2.8 billion) charge on Greek debt and sold billions in eurozone bonds to cut risk.

    The charge equated to 60 percent of BNP's sovereign exposure to the crisis-hit Greek economy and reflected last month's pledge from private-sector creditors to write off a bigger chunk of their Greek debt, the bank said in a statement, though it added the plan was still "shrouded by uncertainty".

    Describing the bank's Greek provisioning as adequate for the time being, BNP Chief Executive Baudouin Prot nonetheless did not rule out a Greek sovereign debt default, telling Reuters Insider TV it would be "unpleasant" but manageable.

    "A (Greek) default certainly would be manageable. Unpleasant, but manageable," he said. "I think that (BNP's provisioning) is adequate ... We will see as things go."

    Separately, Dutch financial services group ING Group said it would cut 2,700 jobs at its Dutch banking operations to cope with a deteriorating market, which led to Greek and other impairments.

    BNP's big balance sheet, its dependence on wholesale funding markets and its overwhelming European exposure make it among the most vulnerable to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

    Following a sharp share-price drop in the summer, the bank has announced sweeping asset sales that will be accompanied by job cuts, mainly at its corporate and investment bank, BNP's Prot said, though he would not comment on likely numbers.

    "We will have some staff reductions as we implement the deleveraging plan," he said. "We are working (on) the numbers and we will make announcements to the different platforms in mid-November."

    Banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse are shedding jobs worldwide as stricter regulations and a tough trading environment take their toll on investment banking units in particular.

    BNP's cuts will be in the hundreds not thousands, Prot told BFM Radio.

    The impact of disposals and the redcheap jerseys from chinauction in U.S.-dollar funding needs -- down by $20 billion in the third quarter and due to go down by the same amount in the fourth -- will lead to one-off losses of 1.2 billion euros, BNP said.

    On an annual recurring basis, gross operating income will fall by 750 million.

    BNP's Frankfurt-listed shares were down 2.8 percent at 0702 GMT. The bank's Paris-listed shares are down 44.5 percent since the end of June, against a 27.8 percent fall for the STOXX Europe 600 bank index and a 57 percent fall for smaller domestic rival Societe Generale .


    Third-quarter net profit at BNP fell by 71.6 percent to 541 million euros, compared with a 991.9 million mean estimate of nine analysts polled by Reuters. Revenue fell 7.6 percent to 10.0 billion compared with a mean estimate of 10.48 billion.

    The results bore the scars of a volatile quarter, with corporate and investment bank revenue down 39.8 percent to 1.75 billion euros. Capital-markets pretax profit was almost completely wiped out, while wealth and asset management pretax profit fell by nearly 50 percent in the quarter.

    However, BNP's strong exposure to retail banking benefited from revenue and credit growth in western European markets and others liwholesale jerseys free shippingke Turkey. Retail pretax profit rose by 22.8 percent.

    In addition to taking a Greece charge of 2.26 billion euros, BNP also booked extra losses after slashing its exposure to eurozone sovereign debt by 20.7 percent to 58.6 billion euros.

    The bank cut its banking-book exposure to Greek sovereign debt to 1.6 billion from 3.5 billion at end-June; Spanish holdings fell to 0.5 billion from 2.7 billion; exposure to Italy slid to 12.2 billion from 20.5 billion.

    CEO Prot said the move was a response to regulators' demand that banks mark their sovereign debt to market values.

    Asked whether the bank would continue to offload sovereign bonds, BNP's Prot told Reuters Insider: "No ... We are going to stand where we are."

    BNP's quarterly numbers were peppered with other one-offs, including a revenue gain of 786 million euros on widening spreads on BNP's own debt and a 299 million-euro writedown on its 5.2 percent stake in Europe's No. 2 insurer AXA .
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    The bank's core Tier 1 ratio, a closely watched metric of lenders' loss-absorbing capital, stood at 9.6 percent at end-September, unchanged from end-June.

    French banks including BNP have promised to boost their capital levels by 8.8 billion euros without government help to reach tougher targets set by European regulators for mid-2012.

    Although bonuses will likely come down in line with capital-markets profits, BNP could be at 9.1 percent core Tier 1 in mid-2012 without touching its dividend, CEO Prot said.

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