PARIS – BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, said Thursday that profit held up in the third quarter despite a drop in revenue due to weak retail and investment banking activity.
The bank brought in 9.3 billion euros ($12.8 billion) in revenue, down 4.2 per cent from last year but still above the consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Net profit, however, was up 2.4 per cent to 1.4 billion euros, buoyed by cost-cutting measures and a smaller provision for bad debt. The bank said its “cost of risk” — money set aside for bad loans — dropped 5.5 per cent. Europe’s economic downturn saw once rock-solid sovereign debt become increasingly risky as well as the default of many loans to individuals and companies. To provide a buffer for such defaults, banks typically set aside cash.
Revenue at its corporate and investment banking division was down 14.6 per cent, however, partially due to low client activity. But the business also suffered from a tough comparison to the same quarter last year, when bond markets were buoyed by the European Central Bank’s promised bond-buying program. Some segments of the bank’s retail operations also saw a slide in revenue.
Revenue was also hit by a 138 million-euro downward own credit adjustment and debit value adjustment.
Still, investors were cheered by the rise in profit. In morning trading, the bank’s stock was up 2.9 per cent.