BNP Paribas has denied reports that it is in talks about selling a stake to the Gulf state of Qatar.
Chief Executive Officer Baudoin Prot told French television channel BFM Business: “I formally deny it.”
France’s biggest listed bank did confirm that it does not need any injections of cash in order to meet tougher banking regulations on the amount of capital lenders hold.
Worries about the French banking sector’s exposure to euro zone government debt has seen their share prices more than halve over the summer.
A sources has told Reuters that resource-rich Qatar has also been holding talks with a number of French banks.
“They (Qatar) have been talking to banks across France, given the tremendous need for capital,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A Mideast investment in French banks would have echoes of the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, when Qatar and Abu Dhabi bought stakes in British bank Barclays as part of a capital increase that helped the lender stay independent while rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds ended up being part-nationalised.
Investment from Qatar would be positive news for French banks after months of intense selling pressure forced BNP and rival SocGen to announce tens of billions of euros in asset sales to free up capital.