Bnp Looks For A Little Respect

The privatized French bank is streamlining. So why is its stock in the tank?

Louis XIV's Finance Minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the grandfather of French state capitalism, or dirigisme, stares grimly down from the wall as Banque Nationale de Paris Chairman Michel Pebereau lights a cigar. Pebereau's career flourished under dirigisme, and he retains a deep admiration for its creator even though he now must work outside the system. "They were going to throw it out," he says of Colbert's portrait. "So I took it and kept it."

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