June 12, 2014 / 8:37 PM / 4 years ago

BNP Paribas plans return to North American energy loan market

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas SA plans to rebuild its North American energy loan business two years after selling the operation, a senior executive said on Thursday, a sign of the European bank’s revival from the euro-zone credit crisis.

The bank has decided to re-enter the market after the sale left a gap in its global energy and commodity finance offering, Cristina Roberts, managing director and head of energy and commodity finance Americas, said on Thursday in a briefing.

While the plan is still in its early stage, the bank expects to “kick off a strategy” for the region in August, she said.

“We hope it’ll plug a product gap,” she said.

No other details were available.

The news is a stark about-turn for the bank after divesting its North America reserve based lending business to U.S. rival Wells Fargo in February 2012 to slash costs and strengthen its balance sheet at the height of the euro-zone crisis. At the time, the business included $9.5 billion in loans.

The news also comes as some major Wall Street and European banks exit or reduce their presence in global commodities derivatives markets, transforming an industry as stiffer regulation raise costs and squeeze profit margins.

“We view this as an opportunity,” said Catherine Flax, managing director and head of commodity derivatives for the Americas, at the same meeting.

“We have clients calling us as banks exit.” (Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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