France's No. 1 listed bank, BNP Paribas , is expected to post a rise in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday thanks to a rebound at its investment bank and resilience in French and Belgian retail banking.
Investors will be watching to see if BNP sheds more light on its plan to spend 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) on an overhaul. Although the bank is seen as robust and well-capitalised, it is also exposed to the weak economic backdrop in its mature European markets.
BNP is expected to announce a 30.7 pct increase in quarterly net profit, to 1.0 billion euros ($1.35 billion), according to the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average of analyst forecasts.
The bank's revenues are seen falling 1.5 percent, to 9.5 billion euros, according to the same data, reflecting the low-growth environment and the bank's drive to sell loans and other assets to bolster its balance sheet over the past year.
BNP's fourth-quarter results in 2011 were hit by Greek sovereign-debt writedowns, euro-related market stress and a drive to slim down its balance sheet that is now complete.
Although BNP has reached its capital targets ahead of schedule and is making bullish comments about growth plans, it is u rethink its business model in a post-crisis world of tougher regulation, whipsaw financial markets and government budget cuts across the continent.
BNP's management has said it is aiming to grow operations in the U.S. and Asia while cutting costs at its domestic retail operations.
Meanwhile, smaller rival Societe Generale reshuffled its management team and pledged further cost cuts after announcing a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Louise Heavens)