BNP Paribas says profits surged to 6.7 bn euros in 2015

Paris (AFP) –


French banking giant BNP Paribas on Friday reported a net profit of 6.7 billion euros for 2015, more than a year after a record fine by US authorities.

The result marks a jump from the 157 million euros ($176 million) reported in 2014, when earnings were hit by the 6.6 billion euro fine by US authorities for breaching embargoes on transactions with some countries, most notably Iran.

But it missed the average analyst forecast of 6.9 billion euros collated by FactSet.

Like many European lenders, BNP Paribas's business has been crimped in recent years by low interest rates, higher taxes and stagnant growth in the eurozone.

Financial markets have made one of their worst starts to the year in living memory in 2016, with stocks and commodities slumping over concerns about the health of the world economy.

Reporting the 2015 results, BNP Paribas CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said: "The group turned out a good operational performance, with revenues increasing in three key areas."

Revenues increased by 9.6 percent to 42.9 billion euros in 2015, slightly higher than analyst predictions, helped by its financial services and investment banking businesses.

Growth in its European markets including France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg has been slow, however, where income rose by just 1.6 percent over the year.

The bank is aiming to increase its earnings before tax from investment banking by 1.6 billion euros between 2015 and 2019, equivalent to around a 50 percent rise from last year's results.

It also plans to trim costs in the division by more than one billion euros over the same period, while boosting revenues from its American and Asia-Pacific businesses.

BNP Paribas's capital ratio was 10.9 percent at the end of December, up 0.6 percent from a year earlier.

To meet regulations, the bank must raise that to 11.5 percent by 2019, although it expects to reach that target by the middle of next year after divesting its First Hawaiian Bank.

The bank said it will propose a dividend of 2.31 euros a share at its shareholders in May, compared to 1.50 euros a year earlier.