* BNP seeking growth opportunities abroad
* German market dominated by Landesbanks-analyst
* Deutsche Bank capital pressure may help
By Lionel Laurent
PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - BNP Paribas, France’s biggest bank, has named a new management team for its German operations as it seeks to make a fresh push in Europe’s largest economy amid lacklustre growth at home.
Although BNP’s footprint in the euro zone is already vast thanks to its key subsidiaries in Belgium, France and Italy, the bank is seeking out pockets of opportunity in markets such as Asia, Germany, and the United States after a rocky year selling assets and cutting costs to boost its balance sheet.
Led by Camille Fohl, a top executive at BNP’s Belgian subsidiary Fortis who has also overseen retail operations in central and eastern Europe, the five-strong German committee includes specific roles such as managing retail banking, corporate and investment banking and personal finance.
BNP has in the past year replaced investment banking executives in Germany after reported differences over strategy. Its new head of investment banking in Germany, Torsten Murke, told French business daily Les Echos in August that BNP wanted to be a top-five player in the euro zone’s largest economy.
The German corporate banking market is seen as especially tough for outsiders because of the dominance of regional lenders known as “Landesbanks”, making it more likely that BNP will seek to focus more on capital markets activities like bond issuance.
“The German market is tough, particularly on the corporate side,” said Shailesh Raikundlia, an analyst at Espirito Santo. “One area where BNP might do well is in debt capital markets ... Access to capital markets is not a big franchise for Landesbanks.”
BNP might also be helped by concerns over balance sheet strength at chief German investment banking rival Deutsche Bank , Raikundlia said, in contrast with BNP’s already-beefed-up capital ratios under stricter Basel III rules.
“There is probably going to be more pressure on Deutsche Bank to do something about (capital). It could mean more deleveraging.” (Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Mark Potter)