BNP says has no acquisition plan after solid quarter

By @ibtimes on

BNP Paribas , France's biggest listed bank, said it had no appetite for acquisitions just yet after posting solid fourth-quarter results which soaked up a surprise charge on the value of its stake in AXA .

Shares of BNP were down 0.6 percent at 1109 GMT, underperforming the STOXX 600 Europe bank index <.SX7P>, after analysts said the bank's results were in line with expectations excluding the one-off 534 million euros ($723 million) charge.

BNP saw 2010 revenues and profits rise on the back of the bank's strong retail banking operations and the integration of Belgium-focused crisis acquisition Fortis. The group raised its Fortis synergy target to 1.2 billion euros, from 900 million.

For 2011, BNP expects a slight decline in loan-loss provisions in key European markets like France, Belgium and Italy as the risk environment improves, the bank said.

Acquisitions are not a priority for now.

I'll be very blunt; at the moment, we are not very acquisitive, Chief Executive Baudouin Prot told Reuters Insider television in an interview.

This year we will concentrate on organic growth.

INVESTMENT BANKING REVENUE DOWN

BNP reported fourth-quarter net income of 1.55 billion euros, up 13.6 percent but below a consensus forecast for 1.73 billion in a Reuters poll of 11 analysts.

Group revenues rose 2.6 percent in the quarter, to 10.3 billion euros, missing forecasts of 10.5 billion.

BNP was not entirely immune to the fourth-quarter jitters that hit fixed-income activity at rivals like Goldman Sachs or Credit Suisse . It saw corporate and investment banking revenues fall 6.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, with equity derivatives and corporate financing easing the pain.

BNP's operating results are still satisfying, CM-CIC analyst Pierre Chedeville said, citing the group's above-average profitability and falling loan-loss provisions.

BNP blamed stock market volatility for the charge on its stake in AXA, which is 5.2 percent according to Reuters data.

We are long-term shareholders of AXA and we will remain so, BNP CEO Prot said. The two groups have a long history: BNP Chairman Michel Pebereau is on AXA's board, and it was thanks to AXA's support that BNP was able to buy Paribas in 1999, dealing a big blow to rival SocGen at the time.

BNP said it now had unrealized gains on its AXA stake. AXA has rebounded along with French financials on hope the eurozone has turned a corner since the height of sovereign debt fears.

Like SocGen, BNP said it would raise its dividend, to 2.1 euros per share, from 1.5 euros in 2009.

BNP's return on equity rose to 12.3 percent in 2010, compared with arch-rival Societe Generale's ROE of 9.8. BNP kept its medium-term ROE target of 15 percent, though Prot told reporters this was pretty difficult.

(Editing by Geert De Clercq, Mike Nesbit)

Join the Discussion