Awards for Excellence 2022: Best bank in Belgium – BNP Paribas Fortis
Best Bank: BNP Paribas Fortis
BNP Paribas Fortis has had an excellent year in Belgium. Profit before tax for the 2021 year was up a full 32.3% to €3.8 billion. Gross operating income was up 14% year on year to €3.84 billion and net income was up by 29.5% to €2.59 billion. Revenues have benefitted from higher commission income, a lower cost of risk and efficiency gains. The bank now boasts a fully loaded common equity tier-1 ratio of 18% with a liquidity coverage ratio of 192%.
The year saw the bank buy the remaining stake in Belgian postal service Bpost that it didn’t own, and the operation should be fully integrated into the bank by 2024. This will greatly boost retail banking capability. The two have been operating a joint venture for 25 years and now have a seven-year commercial partnership whereby BNP Paribas Fortis will continue to distribute financial services through the Bpost’s network. The acquisition adds €8 billion of loans to the bank’s portfolio, with large positions in consumer lending and mortgages.
In payments, the bank took over the acquiring portfolio of Ingenico from Worldline in November via its acquiring specialist Axepta BNP Paribas Benelux. The acquisition makes BNP Paribas Fortis the number two player in payment services in Belgium, where there has been a 20% increase in card transactions in the last two years and a threefold increase in contactless payment to 50% of the market.
The bank is, unsurprisingly, focused on sustainable initiatives, which include the promotion of hybrid or fully electric vehicles through its vehicle leasing subsidiary Arval, and the promotion of sustainable products to retail and mortgage clients. It also promotes sustainability linked loans for enterprises, such as the €500 million credit line for Umicore, on which it acted as sustainability coordinator.