(Adds dropped letters to last word of headline)
PARIS Feb 12 BNP Paribas, France's
No. 1 listed bank, has suspended a 160 million euro ($214
million) agricultural commodities fund after international aid
group Oxfam criticized French banks for speculating on food
"We are suspending subscriptions," a spokeswoman for BNP
said of its Parvest World Agriculture fund, explaining the move
as part of the bank's policy on corporate and social
The fund is the bank's most exposed to food commodities, she
Banks around the world have come under fire for speculating
on grain and other agriculture products, which critics say has
pushed up food prices and fueled unrest in some poor countries.
BNP also intends to close its Easy ETF Ultra light Energy
fund, which had 43 million euros in assets by end-January, of
which 37 percent was linked to food commodities, the spokeswoman
Food commodities amounted to 411 million euros, or 0.08
percent of the total in assets BNP Paribas manages, it said.
BNP said the move was taken after regular meetings with
non-profit group Oxfam, which released a report on Tuesday
blaming banks for "speculating on hunger".
Oxfam called for more banks to close food-related funds.
"Banks have a decisive role to play in the fight against
food price volatility, which jeopardizes the right to food for
hundreds of millions of people in the southern part of the
world," Oxfam France said.
Barclays said on Tuesday it was halting trading in
agricultural markets with hedge funds in a move to burnish its
reputation amid a major overhaul.
Last month, Deutsche Bank said it would keep
dealing in financial derivatives as it had found little
empirical evidence that financial instruments lead to increases
or greater volatility in food prices.
($1 = 0.7474 euros)
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Lionel Laurent and
Matthias Blamont; editing by Jane Baird)