Credit Agricole SA posted bigger-than-expected declines in profit and revenue in the first quarter as weakness at its key Italian business overshadowed resilient trading income.
Underlying revenue in Italy, Credit Agricole’s second-biggest retail market, declined 3.9% as volatile markets weighed on fees. Chief Executive Officer Philippe Brassac has targeted consumer banking in the country as an area of growth as he reorganised the bank’s structure over the
past four years and sold less strategic holdings.
Shares of the lender fell 3 percent in Paris as the contraction in Italy offset growth in the bank’s home market of France, as well as a 1.7 percent gain in capital markets revenue that was better than trading results at most peers. The stock earlier in the day fell as much as 3.9 percent.
Brassac is finalising a new set of targets for this summer, after achieving his main financial goals for this year ahead of schedule. That’s a sharp contrast with rivals BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale that dropped key targets recently and are reviewing or exiting some investment-banking activities. Credit Agricole is less dependent than crosstown rivals on volatile trading activities that soak up capital and benefits from huge retail deposits.
The bank — like many peers — is struggling to boost revenue in an era of sustained low interest rates. It’s also seeking to improve the cost base of its corporate and investment bank “at its own rhythm, patiently, without big violent restructu-ring plan,” Deputy CEO Xavier Musca told journalists at a
While Credit Agricole will remain “attentive” to banking consolidation developments that might take place in Europe, Brassac downplayed the possibility of any big move from his bank, echoing similar comments by UniCredit CEO Jean Pierre Mustier earlier this week. Brassac said cross-border acquisitions are “unbelievably difficult and unbelievably complex.”