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BNP Paribas: More than meets the eye

After years of conservative and cautious delivery, BNPP's global ambitions are becoming clear

What exactly is BNP Paribas? 

Is it one of the last men standing in pan-European commercial banking? 

Is it parochial in outlook or more global than you might think

Is it a lender of first resort and strategic adviser as afterthought? 

Or, after years of delivering on a conservative business model, is it now at an inflection point, making a leap into new territory?

It might just be all of these things. The bank has a reputation for being staid, but there are signs that it is shaking itself up, albeit modestly and without ceremony, as is the style of long-serving chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé. What will that look like?

The bank might have spent much of the year discussing its new strategic plan for 2020, with its four new areas of geographic focus – Germany, the UK, the Nordics and the Netherlands. But a much less prominent development might hold the key to understanding where BNPP has come from and where it hopes to get to.

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