French bank BNP Paribas to cut costs as profits fall

Man withdrawing cash from BNP Paribas
Image caption BNP Paribas is France's largest bank

France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, has announced cost-cutting plans as it reports a slump in profits.

Fourth quarter earnings fell by a third to 514m euros ($685m; £442m) - hit by lower profits at its business in Italy.

The bank plans to make savings of 2bn euros over the next three years.

BNP's chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said he saw a "low-growth scenario in Europe" but that Asia would be among the bright spots of the global economy.

BNP Paribas plans to make half of its savings in its retail banking division and a third from investment banking.

Mr Bonnafe was asked by the Reuters news agency whether the savings could be done without job losses. He replied "we'll see", adding that redeployment would be preferred to straight reductions.

A note from Goldman Sachs' analyst Jean-Francois Neuez said that if the cost-cutting plan was implemented successfully, profits could rise by 14%.

There are also plans to invest in technology as well as hire 1,300 extra staff in Asia by 2015.

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