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BNP Paribas: Prot aims for eurozone ascendancy

Fortis acquisition gives unprecedented scale; Organic growth continues in France, Italy

Baudouin Prot, BNP Paribas

"Retail is detail. What we are doing in France and Italy, we can export to Poland, Ukraine, Turkey and now Belgium and Luxembourg"

Baudouin Prot, BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas, the French bank that has been one of the strongest performers throughout the credit crunch, has built a position in European retail that its executives believe will make it the dominant platform in the region.

BNP completed its acquisition of the Belgian and Luxembourg operations of Fortis in May. The addition – about 25% of the enlarged group – gives BNP Paribas substantive businesses in four eurozone countries, 20 million retail customers and €540 billion of deposits. "We are now a full eurozone franchise," says Baudouin Prot, chief executive of BNP Paribas.

The Fortis acquisition was a convoluted saga. The French bank first announced its intention to buy Fortis’s Belgian and Luxembourg assets in October 2008. The deal came up against numerous hurdles, including the fall of the Belgian government and vocal shareholder opposition. For BNP it is one of the highlights of an impressive 12 months.

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