Natixis Said to Consider Hiring for Loan Business in Australia

Natixis SA, the investment-banking unit of France’s second-largest bank by branches, is considering hiring loan bankers in Australia after curbing operations there last year, two people familiar with the situation said.

The lender is looking to hire people in leveraged and project finance-related roles in the country, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. Isaure Gruffaz, a Paris-based spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment on any hiring plans.

Natixis is considering the boost in lending activity as Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, tries to sell its unprofitable Australian business. Westpac Banking Corp., National Australia Bank Ltd. and Macquarie Group Ltd. have made bids for the assets in Australia, two other people familiar with the matter said this week.

In January last year, Natixis closed its Australian origination activities in project and acquisitions finance, according to documents filed with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. European banks have been forced to scale back offshore business units to preserve balance sheets as liquidity deteriorated during the sovereign debt crisis.

Natixis’s net profit in Australia almost halved to A$7.7 million in fiscal year 2012, when its main activity in the nation was providing financial guarantees to group companies, according to documents filed with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

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