French bank BNP Paribas SA reported Thursday a 47 percent jump in profit for the first quarter, thanks to gains on its purchase of assets in Belgium's Fortis and a gradual recovery in economic conditions.
The largest banking group in the eurozone by deposits said it had "limited" exposure of about 5 billion euros ($6.46 billion) to Greece's debt, with another 3 billion euros in commercial investments, primarily in the shipping sector. BNP Paribas insisted overall fallout from the Greek crisis was "negligible" in the quarter.
Net profit for the first quarter was 2.28 billion euros ($2.95 billion), up from 1.56 billion euros in the first quarter of 2009, helped by the acquisition of assets in Fortis last May, the bank said in a statement. Earnings per share were 1.87 euros, up 20.6 percent from last year.
CEO Baudouin Prot called it a "remarkable" quarterly performance.
Revenues in the quarter were up 21.7 percent at 11.53 billion euros, compared to 9.47 billion euros in the first quarter of 2009.
The bank "produced one of the best results of the leading global financial services groups," Prot said. The statement said all of the group's units made a positive contribution to the results.
French banks have welcomed the Greek bailout package financed by European countries and the International Monetary Fund, amid concerns that holders of Greek debt including banks in western Europe would dump the assets and worsen the crisis.
French investment bank Natixis announced Thursday that it has 882 million euros in exposure to Greek risk, including sovereign debt, banks and clients.
On Wednesday, French bank Societe Generale SA estimated its holdings of Greek government debt at 3 billion euros ($3.88 billion). The bank also owns a majority stake in Greek retail and commercial bank Geniki Bank. France's Credit Agricole SA, owns the Greek bank Emporiki.
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