BNP Paribas to Focus on Asia, US as Europe Slows

CNBC.com with Reuters
Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, chief executive officer of BNP Paribas
Antoine Antoniol | Getty Images

BNP Paribas will seek to expand in Asia and the United States as Europe shows signs of a "low growth scenario" this year, Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, chief executive of BNP Paribas, told CNBC.

BNP Paribas announced a three-year plan to save 2 billion euros ($2.69 billion) in costs annually after its fourth-quarter profits were hit by Europe's low-growth economic environment.

France's number one listed bank reported a 32.8 percent fall in net profit for the fourth quarter of 2012 to 514 million euros. Analysts had been expecting a profit closer to 1.0 billion,according to a poll by Reuters.

BNP Paribas CEO: Cost of Risk Will Rise in 2013
BNP Paribas CEO: Cost of Risk Will Rise in 2013

Despite the fall in earnings, Bonnafe said that BNP would continue to expand. "We will continue to invest in many franchises like fixed income, especially in Asia and the U.S," he told CNBC, adding that the bank would seek to capitalize on economic rebounds in those regions.

"We will develop the bank in Asia Pacific, we will start a new program in the U.S. with BancWest (a BNP subsidiary) and in Europe we will leverage on the cost-base, trying to improve the efficiency of the bank in that respect," he told CNBC on Wednesday.

BNP said on Thursday the savings would come from simplifying its reporting structure and from investing in technology improvements. It said no business would be shut down.