In an interview with the "Echos", Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Managing Director of BNL, confirms the special place of BNL in European construction of the French group and its development strategy as a priority on organic growth, while some observers questioned its size after the establishment of several banking giants the past two years in Italy.
Has BNL not become too small a banking market has changed in two years
Certainly, size is an important criterion and, if we were largest in Italy, we would still be happier. But there are other, related to the performance, which are equally important. Often, observers estimate a bank on the sole basis of the number of agencies. It is a distorting prism: BNL was 2.6 million individual customers with 700 agencies. To the Italian average Agency, because of their size and location, it can be said that our ATMs "weigh" twice or that we have in fact equivalent to 1,500 ATMs!
Some say that you miss a regional anchor. And Antonveneta could provide you with a...
BNL is the only truly National Bank in Italy with high reputation throughout the territory. It is not lived as a regions Bank. Its relationships with clients are based on the quality of service, efficiency and innovation. We are not opposed to acquisitions in Italy provided that it is a "smart" price, acceptable both from the point of view of management shareholders, and in relation to the situation of the market. Anyway, we did not offer.
Because there is more than other large network to acquire, could you change the Italy strategy, or even assign BNL
It is not question! We bought BNL 9 billion euros two years ago, we invest 1.2 billion on the overall plan for the strengthening of the quality of the balance sheet, information systems, the range of products and services and all of the new trade organization. BNL is our ship Admiral in Italy, the fleet of large trades of the Group: the funding and Investment Bank, is a reference to long-time Bank, leasing, credit consumption, life insurance, etc., benefiting all of expertise recognized at European or world level.
The Italy is our second home market and BNL is a major contributor to the growth of the profitability of the group, with an increase of nearly 40 over the first nine months of 2007.
BNL is an integral part of the European strategy of BNP Paribas and is located in the heart of our business. This is not a transferable asset and we intend to continue to ensure its development in the long term.
But 5 of the market, is - this sufficient to talk about secondary market domestic
We will continue to develop, according to the strategy decided in 2006, as a priority by organic growth. The integration of BNL BNP Paribas is now completed and our business model based on a fine segmentation of customers, innovation and quality service is in advance of a year on the plan. We have over 20,000 employees in Italy and in have already recruited 750 in the trade network, and the modernization of the agencies is well begun.
You are not a candidate for the redemption of the agencies that must yield UniCredit
As always, we examined this hypothesis, but the average price of the current market, about 9 million euros by agency, is not a reasonable price according to our criteria. Organic growth is more economical with the advantage to choose the location and the staff. Prices for acquisitions must remain acceptable for the profitability of the Bank, and especially allow to finance further development to the acquisition.
Then you accelerate your program openings of agencies
Find a good location in a large city takes time. We will stay on a rate of 50 per year in 2008 and 2009. We will open 6 or 7 by the end of the year. No doubt we programmerons 100 more by 2012.
The arrival of Fabio Gallia as General Manager of BNL mean a refocusing on your part on the France network
Not at all! I remain Chief Executive Officer and will continue to be present in Italy. Fabio Gallia succeeds Mario Girotti, which will be soon sixty-four years and must retire at the end of the year. His replacement was expected and we have seized the opportunity to recruit a manager of great value as Fabio Gallia he left Capitalia. It will become a member of the Executive Committee of BNP Paribas in 2008, as a new proof of the place of the Italy in the heart of the strategy of the Group!