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BANKING

Bank capital: Natixis sets a new benchmark

Guarantees from its parent remove the big risks; It sets out modest targets for a return to profitability

Natixis chief executive Laurent Mignon

Laurent Mignon, Natixis: an exhaustive examination

Now that its parents have guaranteed the most worrying remaining risks for Natixis, the French bank most badly damaged by the implosion of structured securitizations might be pointing the way forward to European commercial and investment banks. Other bank chief executives are still waiting for new capital rules and other regulations to be decided before laying out any refinements to their business models and earnings expectations. By contrast, new Natixis chief executive Laurent Mignon was already outlining expected results of his strategic reorganization to analysts and investors in September, even before the bank had returned to profitability following six successive loss-making quarters since the start of 2008.

The bank hopes to announce profits for the third quarter of 2009 and will now target a return on equity of about 12% on a core tier 1 ratio of about 8%. It hopes to achieve this by 2012. It will simplify the bank, narrowing its geographic focus and its core business lines to do so. It will boost two of its smaller business areas: asset management, where it hopes to build a leading French private bank; and specialist financial services, which include consumer finance, leasing, factoring and payments, for its retail banking parent.