October 2, 2013 / 12:33 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-BNP Paribas eyes growth in Germany without Commerzbank

* No interest in buying stake in Commerzbank

* To invest in diversified growth in Germany

* Digital Hello bank targets 400,000 new customers by 2017 (Adds CEO quotes, details on plans)

FRANKFURT, Oct 2 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas SA has ruled out big takeovers like Commerzbank as it builds its presence in specialised banking businesses in Germany over the next three years, the French lender’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

BNP Paribas aims to boost its revenues in Germany by around one third to 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) by 2016.

“Commerzbank is not on the agenda and that’s it,” Jean-Laurent Bonnafe told journalists at a media briefing when asked about buying either a stake or all of state-backed Commerzbank.

BNP Paribas, Italy’s UniCredit and Switzerland’s UBS have been mentioned as potential bidders for the 17 percent stake the German government holds in the country’s second-biggest lender, possibly as a prelude to a full takeover. UniCredit and UBS have also said they are not interested.

Bonnafe said even bolt-on acquisitions, like recent purchases of Commerzbank’s depositary business and HVB’s real estate fund unit iii-investments, would remain the exception.

“We are going to grow organically,” said Bonnafe as he gave details of plans to gain more of the market in Europe’s biggest economy, first unveiled in July.

BNP Paribas’ diversified German operations are profitable, Bonnafe said, though he declined to give details.

He saw little point in focusing on plain vanilla lending to German corporate clients that in any case were cash-rich, but would concentrate on supplying global products, debt capital market services and trade financing.

BNP Paribas also hopes the European launch of its mobile and online bank, Hello bank, will give an extra thrust to its retail banking operations, where BNP Paribas generated nearly two thirds of its revenue in the first half of this year.

Hello bank in Germany will help transform BNP’s brokerage operation Cortal Consors into a digital bank, with a goal of adding 400,000 new clients in Germany by 2017, bringing the total to 1.1 million, Bonnafe said.

The bank added about 80,000 new clients in the last six months, BNP said. It sees Commerzbank’s Comdirect and ING’s Diba bank as its main competitors in Germany.

Bonnafe expected merger activity among banks in Europe to pick up in three to four years’ time, once the banking union was formed and lenders had more clarity over balance sheet risks.

“It will take time, but we see some kind of consolidation,” he said. Bonnafe declined to comment on earnings developments in the third quarter, ahead of results due on Oct. 31. ($1 = 0.7393 euros) (Reporting by Jonathan Gould and Kathrin Jones; Editing by Harro ten Wolde and Patrick Lannin)

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