Asset sale lifts BNP Paribas' Q1 earnings

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PARIS (AP) — French bank BNP Paribas said Friday a gain on the sale of its property arm helped lift first quarter earnings, despite difficulties at its corporate and investment banking arm.

France's largest bank said it made €2.87 billion ($3.77 billion) in the first quarter, up 9.6 percent from a year earlier, thanks to a €1.79 billion gain on the sale of a stake in the Klepierre property business.

BNP Paribas said its core earnings were down 22.1 percent, excluding exceptional gains, as it continued to try to meet new international banking capital requirements by shrinking its balance sheet.

The bank has been strengthening its capital base in line with new international requirements on the cushion banks must keep against the risk of investments going sour. The bank says it is on track to achieve a targeted capital ratio of over 9 percent, under new rules coming into force next year.

Besides selling a 28 percent stake in Klepierre, a Paris-based developer of shopping centers, BNP Paribas sold €2 billion in loans during the quarter to shrink its balance sheet, taking a €74 million loss in the process.

The bank also took a €142 million loss on the sale of sovereign bonds in the quarter.

Corporate and investment banking was the worst hit branch, with revenue down 11 percent following the moves to shrink the balance sheet. Equities and advisory also posted a double-digit revenue decline due to slow markets.

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