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OPINION

BNP Paribas’s messaging muddle

Crossed wires on an analyst call had many scratching their heads.

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During the slightly pedestrian presentation of BNP Paribas’s strategic plan on Tuesday – characterized by Barclays’ analysts as “more of the same, but better” – listeners were somewhat taken aback by the voiceover at one point.

As the presentation kicked off, the webcast showed the bank’s slides and a photo of Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, its urbane Parisian chief executive. However, rather than Bonnafé’s soft, steady English with a sophisticated French accent, a surprisingly gruff and rapid-fire Irish voice was heard – and its focus was aviation leasing rather than the Single Resolution Fund and other important matters more likely to be weighing on Bonnafé’s mind.

Was this an intentional ploy to make sure everyone was paying attention? Or had the bank chief executive decided to incorporate aviation leasing into his message to the market?

Financial journalists soon took to Twitter to try to find out what was going on, and after around quarter of an hour, things got back to normal. Clearly, BNP Paribas was not the only company using this webcast platform on that day. The French bank has termed its latest efforts to cut costs as “smart sourcing and mutualization”: perhaps the strategy call was a real-world demonstration of exactly what that might mean.

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