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France could get tighter rules by next year

A new Socialist government in France would aim to establish rules by 2013 on controlling speculative activity in the banking system, a senior adviser to the Socialist presidential frontrunner François Hollande said yesterday.

Michel Sapin, a long-time aide to Mr Hollande, said the Socialists did not wish to break up France's system of universal banks, which combines retail and investment banking.

Mr Hollande has said he wants to tax banks more heavily and separate their "socially useful" activities from those seen as speculative.

"It is not about breaking up big institutions, which are extremely useful for the financing of the French economy and beyond," Mr Sapin said.