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How Europe’s political disunity prevents big bank M&A

A BNP Paribas logo is seen outside a bank office in Paris
Photo: Reuters

The European Central Bank has made it clear that it would look favourably on big bank mergers to create stronger pan-eurozone lenders. But M&A between large lenders in different eurozone states is still stalling through financial and political fragmentation – despite hopes for a closer union after Brexit and the war in Ukraine.


The way many see it, ABN Amro would be a dream acquisition for BNP Paribas. It would give the French firm a large share in the relatively oligopolistic Dutch retail market, complementing its large existing shares in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as adding useful additional private and corporate banking businesses in northwest Europe.

Therefore, the timing of recent rumours that the French bank has indeed expressed interest to the Dutch government in buying ABN Amro is interesting.

Late last year, BNPP agreed the sale of US lender Bank of the West for $16.3


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EMEA editor
Dominic O’Neill is EMEA editor. He joined Euromoney in 2007 to cover emerging markets, focusing on central and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and later on Latin America. Based in London, he has covered developed market banking since 2015.