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BNPP challenges merger rumours

Baudoin Prot: dismisses talk of merging
with AXA or ABN Amro as "stupid rumours"

Baudoin Prot, the CEO of BNP Paribas, used a results announcement last month to deny some of the merger rumours involving his firm and to sketch out plans for using the bank's excess capital. As he outlined the bank's 2003 results, which included an impressive 13.1% increase in net income from the corporate and investment banking division, he declined to reveal what BNP Paribas would do if a large US firm bought one of its European rivals. He described such hypothetical strategic plans as "science fiction".

Since JPMorgan announced its intention to buy Bank One in the US in January, several European financial firms have been rumoured to be in talks to merge with each other in an effort to bulk up and avoid being bought by a large US bank.

BNP Paribas, with its relatively high levels of excess capital, has been said to be considering buying AXA or even ABN Amro. However, Prot dismissed these ideas, saying they were "stupid rumours".

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