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Sunday, 29 June 2008

BNP head sees worst of global crisis over-report

The worst of the financial crisis is over and markets should start settling from the second half of this year, the head of France's biggest listed bank, BNP Paribas, told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

"The worst should be over and I think that from the second half onwards the crisis should normalize: that is, the phase of exceptional turbulence on the markets should end," Baudouin Prot, chief executive of BNP, said in an interview published on Sunday.

"I still expect to stay volatile," he added.

He said BNP had only been touched "lightly" by the crisis in the U.S. subprime mortgage market as the bank had only 200 million euros of exposure.

Prot said he was in favor of a pan-European committee to supervise markets "with strong decision-making powers over banking."

But he added that it was also "important to keep a close eye on sectors of the financial industry which are still not supervised."

Prot reiterated that BNP was not interested in buying rival Societe Generale, as it said in March. "We haven't changed our view," he told La Repubblica.

He added that BNP was "under no pressure to make new acquisitions" but would not let any good opportunities slip.

Turning to Italy, where BNP owns lender BNL, Prot said the French bank would continue to invest in the Italian bank's growth.

He added BNP would not sell its 50 percent holding in consumer credit business Findomestic. The other half of the business is owned by Italy's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, and the two are fighting over control.

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