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Natixis Fourth-Quarter Profit Falls 32% on Greek Writedown

The Natixis SA headquarters sit in Paris. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg
The Natixis SA headquarters sit in Paris. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg

Natixis SA, the investment-banking and asset-management unit of Groupe BPCE, said fourth-quarter profit fell 32 percent after it wrote down Greek sovereign debt.

Net income dropped to 302 million euros ($400.4 million) from 442 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based bank said in a statement today. The shares rose after earnings beat the 215 million-euro average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Natixis and French rivals such as BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA have been embroiled in Europe’s crisis because of their $620 billion in holdings of private and public debt in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain, according to figures from the Bank for International Settlements. Natixis took a 124 million-euro provision for credit losses including its Greek government-debt holdings in the quarter.

Natixis “absorbed shocks relatively better than others,” said Jacques-Pascal Porta, who helps manage 300 million euros at Ofi Gestion Privee in Paris and owns no shares of the company. “It’s a nice surprise in the doldrums of financial results that we have seen in the fourth quarter.”

Natixis gained as much as 10 cents, or 4.5 percent, to 2.44 euros, its highest price in five months, and was at 2.41 euros at 9:58 a.m. in Paris trading. That gives the company a market value of 7.4 billion euros.

Net revenue at Natixis’s corporate-and investment-banking division fell 20 percent in the quarter to 588 million euros amid a “very challenging environment” and “lower customer activity,” the company said. Pretax profit at the CIB unit declined 44 percent to 151 million euros.

Earnings before tax at the investment-solutions division, which includes asset management, insurance and private banking, dropped 15 percent to 122 million euros.

“In 2012 we will continue to adapt our business model with our plan to further reduce liquidity needs and risk-weighted assets,” Chief Executive Officer Laurent Mignon said in the statement.

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