BNP Paribas announced today that it had reached agreement in principle to sell its Banque Directe subsidiary to AXA. Approval of employee representatives and regulators is awaited.
AXA sees Banque Directe as adding a banking platform to its product set and distribution network, while BNP Paribas no longer saw any strategic value in Banque Directe following the launch in July 2001 of a multi-channel banking service which allows customers to access their accounts via branches, telephone or Internet.
Paribas says it also prefers to invest in consumer credit, leasing, fleet management and specialised brokerage for individual savings rather than retail banking. However, the sale is likely to cement the already strong relationship between AXA and BNP Paribas, especially through the Cortal and Cetelem e-brokerage businesses owned by the French bank.