Breakingviews

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.

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

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.

SocGen short of options to solve biggest problem

February 13, 2013

The French bank is improving its capital and the threats from potentially strict regulation have receded. But even after it restructures its business into three key pillars, returns in 2015 will remain below the current cost of equity. And more radical solutions offer no panacea.

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.

SocGen joins the capital-raising club

October 6, 2009

Societe Generale has confirmed that it is joining the club of banks repaying expensive government debt. As with fellow members, the rights issue -- for 4.8 billion euros-worth of stock -- has been welcomed by shareholders.

Ukraine crisis dents EU banks’ recovery plans

March 3, 2014

Shares in France’s SocGen and Austria’s Raiffeisen have fallen sharply. European banks have been looking to Russia to juice up humdrum returns and/or weak capital positions. While Russian lenders like Sberbank are more at risk, the fallout could mess up a few turnaround plans.