That was the gist of an employee memo from BNP Paribas SA, France's biggest lender, in which it said that cuts to funding at its CIB unit would result in a narrower definition of a preferred client. The document, which was leaked to Reuters, said the bank would "redefine its priority lists of preferred clients" based on "the currency of the client's financing, the client's past and future profitability and cross selling opportunities."
The memo provides a glimpse into how BNP plans to meet its broad goal of reducing its CIB asset based by 10% by the end of 2012, a target it announced last September. Since that announcement, details about exactly how it planned to reduce funding for the unit have been as scarce as dollar financing for European lenders. And on that subject, "The plan's direct impact ... is the sale of existing assets and the cut in lending in currencies other than the euro for the next 15 months," the BNP memo stated.
BNP declined to comment on the memo, though a source confirmed its existence.
BNP isn't the only French bank cutting back or leaking internal memos. In a similar note, also cited by Reuters, Nataxis, the CIB unit of BPCE, said it will cut risk-weighted assets by 5% by the end of the year.
Natixis plans to hit its target by running down some specialist lending operations, such as non-oil shipping, and by reducing its aircraft financing operations. It is also considering offers for its commodities unit.
Specialist financing operations, much of which are denominated in dollars, are likely to be on the block at BNP Paribas, too. BNP has said it will reduce its dollar funding requirements by $20 billion by the end of the year.
There was a bright spot amid the gloom for French midmarket private equity. Natixis said that it would maintain its leveraged buyout funding.
At least one Paris-based PE shop was unsurprised. "We are still a good bet and banks are willing to lend where the project is a good one," said a midmarket PE manager. "It takes a bit longer to organize [debt funding] and the ratio is 50/50 (debt to equity) since early 2011, but euro-denominated deals can still get the financing."
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