French banks won't be broken up under reform - finance minister Moscovici

PARIS Fri Dec 7, 2012 12:04pm GMT

France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici speaks before a commission at the National Assembly in Paris December 5, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici speaks before a commission at the National Assembly in Paris December 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

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PARIS (Reuters) - France's Socialist government will not force French banks to split themselves in two as part of reform to rein in their speculative activities, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Friday.

Moscovici is to present a banking reform bill on December 19 that aims to crack down on proprietary trading, in which they use the banks' own money, while ensuring they can keep financing the broader economy.

"I am not going to break the banks in two," Moscovici said on BFMTV. "What we are gong to do is separate in a strong way the speculative activities and useful activities for the economy."

The reform aims to deliver on a campaign promise by President Francois Hollande who had pledged to clamp down on banks' most speculative activities.

Moscovici said that reform would not threaten the so-called universal banking model common in France, with large banks such as BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) or Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) that have far-ranging businesses.

"We are going to ban a certain number of purely speculative activities. I'm thinking about high-frequency trading, computer driven operations done by banks for themselves, or commodities speculations."

The centrepiece of the reform demands that banks put their proprietary trading activities and financing for certain types of hedge funds and private equity into separately regulated entities, according to the draft law seen by Reuters.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas)

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