January 31, 2019 / 5:00 AM / a year ago

BPIFrance bank sees strong corporate credit demand

PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - French state-owned bank BPIFrance said corporate credit demand was strong going into 2019 despite nationwide anti-government protests and that tax concessions aimed at quelling the unrest would bolster consumer spending this year.

“The growth outlook for 2019 is quite significant,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, BPIFrance’s Chief Executive as the bank released its annual financial report on Thursday. “The French economy’s drivers are there,” he said.

A package of measures passed by the government in December in reaction to the protests, which will put between 11 billion and billion euros ($12.6-$13.7 billion) in consumers’ pockets, will encourage consumer spending, he said.

Dufourcq’s outlook echoes the government’s view that the French economy will expand 1.7 percent this year, up from 1.5 percent in 2018, as the measures start to percolate into the economy.

The “yellow vest” protests, named after the high visibility vests French motorists must keep in their cars, knocked 0.1 percentage points off growth in the last quarter of 2018, the finance ministry has said.

Dufourcq said his bank was likely to book a net profit of close to 1 billion euros in 2018, down from 1.36 billion euros in 2017, when its results were lifted by the sale of stakes in several listed companies.

BPIFrance does not plan to sell more stakes in the short term, Dufourcq said, and intends to keep its holding in French telecoms giant Orange, he said.

He also said his bank intended to invest about 200 million euros in renewable energy companies.

$1 = 0.8759 euros Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Mark Potter

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