BNP Paribas yesterday revealed a €5bn (£4.2bn) exposure to Greece, the largest among major French banks, as worries over contagion from the debt crisis kept lenders under pressure.
The revelation came as BNP posted first-quarter net profit that beat analyst forecasts, thanks to improved market conditions and the integration of Fortis, and said the economic recovery had begun.
Chief executive Baudouin Prot tried to calm fears that the Greek economic crisis could spread. “All the scenarios for the contagion of the Greek crisis to Spain and Portugal are unfounded,” he said.
But he added BNP had also decided not to reveal its exposure to Eurozone countries aside from Greece. “We have decided at BNP Paribas that we will not give any number on countries in the Eurozone besides Greece,” he said.
The bank pegged its Greek sovereign debt exposure at €5bn, a day after smaller rival Societe Generale said its exposure was €3bn.
BNP also said yesterday that it had €3bn in corporate commitments in Greece, mainly with international firms and with risks that had “minimal correlation” to Greece’s economy.
BNP’s other major French rival, Credit Agricole, has said its sovereign Greek exposure is €850m.
French bank Natixis’ parent company BPCE yesterday said its exposure to Greece stood at €2.1bn, including €882m at Natixis. Sovereign exposure was €1.4bn.
This puts BNP firmly ahead of both French peers in terms of Greek exposure. However, unlike them, BNP does not have a significant banking subsidiary within Greece, and analysts see the group as relatively less vulnerable to the broader Greek economy.
BNP reported first-quarter net profit of €2.3bn, a 47 per cent rise year-on-year and comfortably surpassing analyst expectations. It saw net profit of €2.28bn up from €1.56bn a year earlier. BNP shares ended virtually unchanged yesterday, closing at €47.76.
FRENCH BANKS’ EXPOSURE TO GREECE
€3bn Societe Generale
€5bn BNP Paribas
City A.M. Reporter