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May 6, 2015

Investment banking helps French banks offset weak retail earnings

PARIS, May 6 (Reuters) – Societe Generale and
Credit Agricole joined bigger French rival BNP Paribas
on Wednesday in posting stronger first quarter
earnings on firm revenues from investment banking.

Brisk financial market trading and booming corporate bond
issuance helped the trio of French banks offset lacklustre
performances in their domestic retail banking markets.

Apr 21, 2015

Yield-hungry investors help French firms snub banks for loans

PARIS (Reuters) – French firms traditionally hooked on bank loans are increasingly turning to private debt placements, joining rivals in the United States and Germany where similar markets for loans sold by a company to a single or small group of investors have long thrived.

For mid-sized companies less able to tap mainstream bond markets, private placements open up the possibility of borrowing longer-term at relatively low rates, while for lenders such as insurance companies they appeal at a time of rock-bottom bond yields.

Apr 21, 2015

BNP executive tipped as front-runner to head Bank of France

PARIS (Reuters) – Top BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) banker Francois Villeroy de Galhau emerged as a possible candidate to replace the retiring governor of the Bank of France on Tuesday as he was named to lead a new state-sponsored investment drive.

The naming of Villeroy de Galhau to a French public service role could help allay any domestic political objections further down the line to the Socialist government picking a commercial banker to replace Christian Noyer when he retires this year.

Apr 3, 2015

Germanwings co-pilot increased speed as jet went down

PARIS (Reuters) – The co-pilot of a Germanwings jet that crashed in the French Alps increased the airplane’s speed before it crashed killing all 150 people on board, according to French investigators.

France’s BEA crash investigation agency said on Friday it was still reconstructing the flight, but the chilling new detail from a second ‘black box’ data recorder appeared to corroborate prosecutors’ suggestions that the co-pilot acted deliberately.

Feb 25, 2015

AXA shares highest since 2008 after insurer raises dividend

PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Europe’s second-biggest insurer
AXA posted a 12 percent rise in 2014 net profit thanks
to lower costs and raised its dividend, sending its shares to
their highest since the start of the financial crisis.

Despite low interest rates pressuring insurers’ investment
revenues, analysts saw room for the company to raise its
dividend further in the future.

Feb 23, 2015

Moscovici raises threat of French budget sanctions but eyes deal

PARIS (Reuters) – The EU’s top economics official raised the threat of sanctions against France over its budget slippages on Monday but made clear that he would prefer to reach a deal that would grant Paris yet another reprieve in exchange for reform pledges.

The European Commission is due to say this week whether it considers that France’s efforts to reform its economy and cut its deficit are sufficient, despite repeated failures to meet fiscal goals.

Feb 20, 2015

ECB’s Draghi wants to buy bonds, but who will sell?

LONDON (Reuters) – At the height of the euro zone debt crisis in 2012, ECB President Mario Draghi’s problem was how to convince investors to hold on to European bonds. Now he faces a struggle to make them sell.

Weeks before the European Central Bank begins a program to buy about 1 trillion euros of euro zone government bonds, banks, pension funds and insurers across the continent are hoarding them for regulatory or accounting reasons.

Feb 5, 2015

BNP Paribas sees tax, regulation pressures piling up

PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) – BNP Paribas expects
rising taxes and new regulations to reduce 2016 earnings by 500
million euros ($571 million), France’s biggest bank said on
Thursday, sending its shares down 4 percent.

The bank faces increased costs for foreign banks in the U.S.
and a mounting bill related to Europe’s new banking union. It
expects banking-sector specific taxes to top 900 million euros
next year and said the impact of costs should ease thereafter.

Feb 2, 2015

Urge to merge grips French mutual insurers as price war breaks out

PARIS, Feb 2 (Reuters) – Tight health budgets, regulatory
revolutions and the threat of Google have unleashed a surge of
competition among France’s mutual insurers, triggering a wave of
mergers in the usually staid corner of the financial sector.

Malakoff Mederic and La Mutuelle Generale were the latest
not-for-profit mutuals to ink a tie-up creating a combined group
this month with annual revenues of 4.6 billion euros ($5.2
billion).

Jan 19, 2015

SocGen picks former ECB executive board member as chairman

PARIS, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Societe Generale is to
split its top job into two with the appointment of former
European Central Bank executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi
as chairman, while Frederic Oudea will remain chief executive.

Societe Generale was the only big French bank not to have
separated the two roles and was expected to do this to comply
with European Union regulations and recommendations from French
employee associations.