BNP Paribas Bucks Bank Trend, Profit Rises 21%

BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, reported a 21 percent rise in third-quarter net profit in sharp contrast to the slump in earnings of many of its rivals amid a global credit crisis.

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Net profit rose to 2.027 billion euros ($2.97 billion), boosted by higher profit at BNP Paribas' overseas banking and asset management divisions.

Nineteen analysts polled by Reuters gave an average net profit forecast of 1.892 billion euros.

Profits were also lifted by the sale in September of BNP Paribas' 6.5 percent stake in France's Bouygues Telecom.

BNP Paribas also booked a third-quarter capital gain of 52 million euros due to the flotation of Bank of Nanjing, a Chinese bank in which BNP Paribas has a stake.

Many of the world's top banks have been hit by writedowns related to the U.S. subprime mortgage sector, with UBS and Merrill Lynch posting third-quarter losses.

On Wednesday, rival French bank Societe Generale reported an 11.5 percent fall in its third-quarter net profit.

BNP Paribas said the credit crisis had a total impact of 301 million euros on the group during the third quarter and the bank was cautious about the current business environment.

"In a business environment that remains uncertain, BNP Paribas will pursue its strategy based on a well-balanced portfolio of well-positioned businesses," Chief Executive Baudouin Prot said in a statement.

BNP Paribas shares closed up 0.03 percent at 70.70 euros on Wednesday. The stock has fallen by around 15 percent since the start of 2007, in line with a similar decline in the DJ Stoxx European bank sector.