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Roundtable - André Lévy-Lang, chairman, Banque Paribas

Do you expect there to be further consolidation in the world banking industry ?

Lévy-Lang: Yes, but not because of the usual assumption that bigger banks are better banks but because there is an oversupply of banks in the world and that it is cheaper and politically easier to merge than to liquidate a bank...

Will there be large-scale cross-border - as well as domestic - bank mergers?

Lévy-Lang: Yes, in spite of the limitations in cross border synergies in banking.

Do you see banking consolidation putting any downward pressure on professional salaries?

Lévy-Lang: On average yes, but who wants to hire an average banker? There will be more differentiation in professional salaries, with a premium for specialists.

What is a bank?

Lévy-Lang: A bank is a regulated institution which collects deposits from the public. All the other functions performed by banks can be performed as well or better by non-banks (and they often are...).

As securities markets continue to grow worldwide, is there a future for bank lending to companies?

Lévy-Lang: Yes, because all risks cannot be repackaged and sold to investors, and there will always be a need for direct lending, if only as a bridge to the securities market.

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