March 25, 2013 / 5:07 PM / 5 years ago

BNP Paribas seeks 300 mln euros of savings in Belgium

BRUSSELS, March 25 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas’s Belgian arm plans to save an annual 300 million euros ($390 million) over the next three years by cutting its workforce by about 10 percent and closing 150 branches.

BNP Paribas Fortis, Belgium’s number one bank, said customers were making greater use of the Internet for banking and needed less face-to-face contact for basic operations, while demanding more meetings with advisors.

The company said it would cut 1,800 full-time equivalent posts through natural attrition and would limit new recruitment to 200 full-time posts per year during the period.

BNP Paribas Fortis employed 17,349 people in Belgium in 2012, with 16,900 full-time equivalent posts.

It would close 50 branches this year and a further 100 over the next two years from its current total of 936. Its call centre staff would swell to 500 from 400 now.

BNP Paribas said in February that a three-year efficiency drive relying on simplified reporting structures and better technology would bring annual cost savings of 2 billion euros.

France’s No. 1 bank owns 74.93 percent of BNP Paribas Fortis, the Belgian state 25 percent and the public 0.07 percent. It ended up in the French lender’s hands after the 2008 bailout and break-up of Fortis.

Last month, Dutch bank ING announced it planned to reduce its headcount in Belgium by 1,000 by 2015 to save 150 million euros, part of an overall cut of 2,400 positions. ($1 = 0.7694 euros) (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by David Cowell)

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