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14-05-2012 10:43:00

French Central Bank Gov: No French Bank In Danger If "Extreme Greek Scenario"

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PARIS -(Dow Jones)- No French banking group is in danger even in an "extreme" scenario in Greece, the Governor of the Bank of France said Monday.

"I know of no group that would be in difficulty in an extreme scenario in Greece," Noyer said, asked at a press conference in Paris if the Bank of France had looked at the extreme scenario of a Greece exiting the euro.

The situation in Greece has deteriorated sharply as general elections failed to deliver a majority that supports the terms of the bailout from euro-zone countries and the International Monetary Fund. Noyer said the program is necessary for Greece and is in the interest of its citizens.

French banks have sharply reduced their exposure to Greece's troubled economy since last August, when they saw their shares plummet as Europe's sovereign debt crisis unfolded. BNP Paribas SA (BNP.FR), France's largest bank by market capitalization, held Greek sovereign bonds worth just EUR200 million on March 31, 2012, while Societe Generale SA (GLE.FR)'s exposure stood at EUR200 million at the end of last month.

Credit Agricole SA (ACA.FR), however, remains highly exposed to Greece, where it owns Emporiki Bank since 2006. The Greek bank, which carries loans worth EUR18.7 billion on its balance sheet has long been a drain on the lender's finances.

Addressing fears of contagion from Greece, Noyer said Greece is a very particular case unlike any other in the euro zone. Spain's economic fundamentals, for example, give it a strong capacity for recovery, said Noyer, one of the European Central Bank's policymakers.

Noyer also warned France's new government against rushing in to setting new rules for governing the proprietary trading at banks. President elect Francois Hollande pledged in his election program to curb banks' risky trading activities and force them to break off speculative operations into separate entities.

Noyer said proprietary trading activities can also be beneficial to managing risk on banks' balance sheets and financing the economy.

-By William Horobin and Noemie Bisserbe, Dow Jones Newswires; +33 1 4017 1740; william.horobion@dowjones.com; noemie.bisserbe@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2012 04:43 ET (08:43 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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