Agricole profit down

City A.M. Reporter
CREDIT Agricole, France&rsquo;s biggest retail bank, yesterday plucked a new chief executive from its influential regional divisions as it posted a widely-expected fall in third quarter profit.<br /><br />The group said yesterday that Jean-Paul Chifflet would replace Georges Pauget as chief executive in March next year.<br /><br />Chifflet&rsquo;s current position is corporate secretary of the Federation Nationale du Credit Agricole, the central body of regional banks on which the group is founded.<br /><br />The appointment of Chifflet highlights the renewed power of the company&rsquo;s regional retail banks over the group, which has cut back on ambitious plans for its Calyon investment banking unit after Calyon posted a string of losses in 2008.<br /><br />&ldquo;The company&rsquo;s regional banks are tightening their grip on power,&rdquo; said Reyl France fund manager Dorothee Marty, who holds Agricole shares in her portfolio.<br /><br />Third-quarter net profit fell 21 percent from a year earlier to &euro;289m (&pound;258m), above the average net profit of &euro;238m forecast by analysts.<br /><br />The company&rsquo;s earnings were hit by writedowns at its Greek Emporiki division and by a rise in bad debts.<br /><br />Agricole&rsquo;s third quarter profit was less than that reported by its main domestic rivals earlier this month.<br /><br />Societe Generale made a net profit of &euro;426m, while BNP Paribas, France&rsquo;s biggest bank by market capitalisation, posted a profit of &euro;1.18bn.