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BNP Paribas: Will freed up capital just go on buybacks and bolt-ons?

Greater regulatory clarity, and perhaps a sale of Bank of the West, leave the French bank with the happy dilemma of what to do with excess capital.

New rumours were swirling in late 2021 of BNP Paribas selling US retail franchise, Bank of the West. That, in turn, raises new questions of what BNPP could do with capital above its target as it seeks to erase a stubborn discount to book value, despite the last year’s share-price rebound.

Will it go on share buy backs? Or could it deploy that capital towards growth in Europe?

Eurozone policy rates suddenly look like they might not be negative for as long as they did. Partly thanks to booming mortgage demand, even French retail saw a healthy 5% rise in revenues in first nine months of 2021.

Lars Machenil

More details will come in a new strategic plan in February. But greater regulatory clarity, and confidence around Covid-related defaults, meant the bank was already able to launch a buyback programme of up to €900 million in November.

“Regulatory uncertainty is tapering off, which means a higher fraction of earnings will be available,” says chief financial officer Lars Machenil.

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