Profit boost from Fortis puts BNP chief in buoyant mood

BNP PARIBAS posted higher second-quarter profit yesterday thanks in part to its purchase of Fortis assets, and expressed some optimism over prospects for financial markets.<br /><br />Net profit rose 6.6 per cent from a year earlier to &euro;1.6bn (&pound;1.36bn), while gross operating profit rose 44.7 per cent to &euro;4.06bn, beating an average analysts&rsquo; forecast of &euro;3.67bn.<br /><br />BNP Paribas said its acquisition of some of the key assets of struggling European bank Fortis contributed &euro;261m to net profit. The French group added that its integration of Fortis was on track.<br /><br />Chief executive Baudouin Prot said that he was feeling more confident.<br /><br />&ldquo;I am relatively positive about the markets,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />BNP Paribas added it would buy majority control of Italian consumer finance group Findomestic, currently jointly owned by BNP and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo. <br /><br />In Italy, BNP already owns the BNL retail bank.<br /><br />The French bank said it would buy an extra 25 per cent stake in Findomestic in the second half of this year for &euro;625m, bringing its shareholding up to 75 per cent.<br /><br />Rival French bank Soci&eacute;t&eacute; G&eacute;n&eacute;rale reports today, while Cr&eacute;dit Agricole and Natixis publish figures at the end of the month.