September 10, 2012 / 6:53 AM / 6 years ago

BNP Paribas to let Italian unit issue own funding: FT

PARIS (Reuters) - BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) is expected to start issuing bonds through its Italian arm BNL rather than funding the unit from parent-company resources, showing that financing in individual countries is retrenching to national boundaries, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The newspaper did not specify how it got the information, which was not spelled out in its interview published the same day with the French bank’s Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, who was a key player in acquiring and integrating BNP’s Italian subsidiary in 2006.

Investors see BNL, which remains funded for 18 billion euros by BNP’s Paris headquarters, as one of the big drags on the group’s shares, the FT wrote.

Bonnafe told the paper that BNP Paribas was also seeking to expand its businesses in Asia and the United States, thereby reducing its dependence on the financially troubled eurozone. Details of the plans would be announced by the end of the year.

“For me it’s quite obvious that we start with Asia, we start with a couple of key businesses, one of those businesses being the fixed income platform. And U.S. is part of that game,” Bonnafe was quoted as saying.

Asia represents 12 percent of BNP’s non-retail revenues, which in turn take up half of the bank’s total revenues. In the United States, BNP aims to expand its fixed income and wealth management businesses, mainly through its California-based Bank West, according to the paper.

Moreover, the bank has set its sights on Turkey, north Africa and the Gulf countries, the FT said.

The planned diversification comes as BNP Paribas trimmed its balance sheet and is turning to a new development phase and could help address investors’ concerns about its ability to drive growth as it is mainly exposed to mature European markets.

Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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