Jean-Laurent Bonnafé has heard all the reports, all the speculation. For months now, the market has been buzzing with the possibility that his bank, BNP Paribas SA, might take a run at acquiring a beleaguered competitor,Commerzbank AG. And why not? The Frankfurt-based bank has been struggling to find its footing even as France’s biggest lender, brimming with profits, has been pushing hard into Germany’s industrial heartland on the hunt for corporate clients.So is it true?Bonnafé, a 25-year BNP veteran of stolid technocratic bearing, frowns at the question. It’s a rainy spring morning in Paris, and the chief executive officer is sitting in a salon in the bank’s palatial headquarters at a table bearing baskets of freshly baked croissants and silver pots of coffee. He shakes his head.“No, no, no. At this moment, you cannot take on large transactions,” Bonnafé says in French-accented English. The reason, he explains, is that BNP Paribas is investing €3 billion ($3.5 billion) to change how it uses technology, deals with customers, and develops new products. Assimilating the digital plumbing of Germany’s second-biggest listed bank would set that effort back two to three years. “If you do that, you cannot deliver on the digital transformation,” he says…. Read full this story
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