* Aims to save 2 bln eur annually with three-year plan
* Eyes revenue ramp-up in Asia
* European scenario is for low growth in 2013 -BNP CEO
* Q4 profits fall by a third, miss expectations
By Lionel Laurent and Matthias Blamont
PARIS, Feb 14 BNP Paribas said it
would kick off a three-year plan to save 2 billion euros ($2.69
billion) in annual costs and ramp up growth in Asia after its
fourth-quarter profits were hit by Europe's weak economy.
France's No. 1 listed bank said the savings would come from
simplifying its reporting structure and from investing in
technology improvements. It said no business would be shut down.
While BNP is seen as robust and well-capitalised after a
year-long drive to cut its balance sheet and shrink its holdings
of risky eurozone sovereign debt, it is heavily exposed to
mature European markets and is under pressure to show investors
new paths to growth.
The bank said on Thursday it was eyeing a ramp-up in Asia,
where it wants to lift revenues from investment banking and its
asset-gathering Investment Solutions division to over 3 billion
euros ($4 billion) by 2016, up from 2 billion in 2012. It is
also aiming to hire 1,300 people in the region through to 2015.
"We see a low-growth scenario in Europe (in 2013)," BNP
Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe told Reuters Insider
television. Acquisitions are not currently planned, he said.
BNP reported a one-third fall in net profit for the fourth
quarter of 2012, to 514 million euros. Analysts had been
expecting a profit closer to 1.0 billion, according to a Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S average forecast.
Among the troublespots were Italy - where BNP took a 300
million-euro goodwill writedown on its BNL subsidiary as part of
an effort to raise its capital strength - and investment
banking, where a rebound in revenues was hampered by a rise in
loan losses on the back of one specific unidentified loan.
BNP said it would propose a cash dividend of 1.50 euros per
share and said its focus on balance-sheet strength in 2012 had
lifted its Basel III Core Tier 1 Ratio to 9.9 percent.
Smaller rival Societe Generale reported a
wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday and held
back from giving any numbers or targets on its own plan to
unlock cost savings over the next three years.
($1 = 0.7442 euros)
(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; editing by Mark John)