BNP Paribas makes 4th quarter loss
BNP Paribas SA said Thursday it lost euro1.37 billion in the fourth quarter (US$1.72 billion) as the global financial crisis caught up with France's largest bank, AP reported.
The Paris-based bank, which last year had touted its ability to remain in profit long after most rivals had succumbed to the crisis, blamed a rapid decline in equity markets at the end of last year for part of its fourth quarter loss. It had made a profit in the year earlier period of euro1 billion.
BNP Paribas also cited "sudden and huge" increases in volatility, the cost of risk, and drying up of liquidity, that were "unprecedented in magnitude."
The bank's corporate and investment bank was the worst-hit division, posting pretax losses of euro2.07 billion in the fourth quarter and euro1.19 billion for all of 2008.
All the other bank's divisions, from domestic retail banking to international retail services and asset management remained in profit in both the fourth quarter and for the year, BNP Paribas said.
Overall the crisis which began last year caused BNP Paribas' 2008 profit to fall by more than half to euro3.02 billion, from euro7.82 billion in 2007.
This year, BNP Paribas' corporate and investment bank will "continue to significantly scale back business in the most complex structured products." The division's operations will also be "streamlined" to shave costs by 5 percent, the bank said in a statement.