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French banks join insurance business

Tuesday, October 09 08:00:34

France's biggest banks are teaming up with part state-owned insurer CNP to pool their shareholdings in various companies into a fund worth at least 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), French daily Le Figaro said today. The insurance arms of banking groups BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are still in talks with CNP over which stakes will go into the fund out of their 40 billion euros in collective stock investments, the paper said, quoting BNP's insurance chief Eric Lombard.

"We aren't ruling out building up new positions," Lombard told Le Figaro, which said the fund would be looking at new investments in medium-sized French corporates. Incoming regulations known as Solvency II designed to bolster insurers' capital strength and risk management have pushed insurers to cut back investments in the stock market. The EU rules were to go into force this month but have now been delayed at least until 2014. ( C) Reuters