Breakingviews

Wall Street lead over EU banks looks set in stone

June 17, 2015

European trading and advisory revenue is down 30 pct since 2010 while U.S. investment banking has grown. Now Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cutting further, even more ground will be ceded. The region’s tentative recovery and capital markets project offer only slim hope of a reversal.

French investment banking has less than meets eye

April 23, 2015

Returns at BNP Paribas’ and Societe Generale’s trading and advisory businesses are better than peers. But the pair’s divisions carry less equity against gross assets than rivals. Before dashing in, investors should consider what the return would be with greater leverage restraint.

BNP Paribas needs a chair to shake up its board

September 24, 2014

Baudouin Prot is resigning as the French bank’s chairman. His likely successor is technocrat Jean Lemierre. As an adviser to Prot he’s hardly an outsider. But that’s less vital than a readiness to refresh BNP’s board following its mega-fine from U.S. regulators.

U.S. cooks up penalties with anti-foreign flavor

July 1, 2014

New research shows that overseas firms like BNP Paribas do in fact pay bigger fines and plead guilty more often than U.S. companies. One reason may be that prosecutors target only the most serious cases abroad. But the gaps feed suspicions that America is playing favorites.

BNP’s Prot should go

By Pierre Briancon
July 1, 2014

The French bank has pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing and will pay a near-$9 bln fine to U.S. authorities. Chairman Baudouin Prot was CEO when BNP Paribas was helping clients evade U.S. sanctions. His position is untenable. In the name of accountability, he should resign.

BNP is latest pawn in U.S. too-big-to-jail saga

April 30, 2014

Post-HSBC, U.S. regulators are keen to bin the idea that big banks can’t be found guilty on stability grounds. BNP’s breaches of foreign sanctions may not be worse than peers’. But at best it looks to be facing a big fine; at worst, a serious threat to its Stateside business.

French banks face tough 2012 after rocky 2011

February 17, 2012

After a tumultuous second half, BNP Paribas and SocGen may be happy for now to prioritise balance sheet repairs over returns. But despite abundant ECB liquidity, the double threat of an economic slowdown and a bank-bashing new president means 2012 may not be more comfortable.

French banks hope to end balance-sheet shrinking

By Pierre Briancon
May 4, 2012

BNP and SocGen’s results showed the strains of aggressive deleveraging in the first quarter. BNP should reach its Basel III capital target this year, 18 months ahead of its smaller rival. But it’s also more vulnerable to a possible worsening on the euro front.

Deutsche ditch divines commoditized commodities

December 6, 2013

The German bank is quitting energy and base metals trading. That should free up capital without hurting results. It’s a helpful step that others like Barclays and BNP Paribas may follow. It won’t, however, fully solve the bigger problem of a swoon making profits elusive for all.

What ING, Erste say about capital raising

October 30, 2009

Both ING and Erste Bank have unveiled rights issues this week but neither yet has any guarantee of the price that they will get for their shares. This shows that -- despite the stock market rally and the apparently insatiable appetite for fresh bank equity -- investors are still jittery.