LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Frederic Oudea, chief executive of Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), has criticised the market’s bearish views of French lenders in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday.
He dismissed the recent call from Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, for an urgent recapitalisation of Europe’s banks, which have been hit by eurozone sovereign debt exposures.
“I do not believe in a scenario of stress or real losses on [eurozone debt],” Oudea said in the interview recorded before Monday’s steep fall in eurozone bank shares and his pledge to accelerate asset disposals and cut costs to free up 4 billion euro by 2013. [ID:nL5E7KC0H4] [ID:nL5E7KC1UO]
“If you look at the figures again for the big banks, there is a capacity to generate profit and to compensate for that. So really I do not believe that there is an urgent need to recap for the large banks,” he said.
French banks are among the biggest holders of Greek sovereign debt, led by BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), which despite recent reductions, still holds more than 4 billion euro. [ID:nLDE7701CE]
Oudea highlighted the small exposures that SocGen had compared with its capital base, referring to its eurozone exposure as “low, declining and manageable.” Its Greek exposure is now 1.1 billion euro.
“We are one of the banks, I think, with one of the safest balance sheets,” Oudea added.
“I don’t believe in the scenarios of big problems with certain countries that sometimes the markets have. But, even if it were the case, when you look at the balance sheet, we have very low figures,” he added.
“So we don’t have a capital problem from that perspective and for me it’s a great comfort entering into this period of uncertainty which might last a few months,” he added. (Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Gary Hill)