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Staff at Paribas and BNP City offices braced for cull as banks are merged

STAFF AT the City offices of French banks Paribas and Banque Nationale de Paris are braced for news of substantial layoffs later today when Michel Pebereau, the BNP chairman, announces his plans for integrating the two banks following the success of his 20bn euro hostile bid last month.

Some 800 jobs had been due to go in London under the rival plan to merger Paribas with Societe Generale which BNP successfully blocked last month.

Staff who met Mr Pebereau at a brief tour of his new dominions earlier this month were left with little doubt that the chairman of what is now France's biggest bank intends wasting no time and will be ruthless in forcing through the changes he believes are necessary to make the takeover work.

Insiders say that the overlap between BNP and Paribas in London is much less than that between Paribas and SocGen, although BNP has a substantial bond trading business in the City employing around 300 people. It looks set to bear the brunt of any cuts.

In typical French style, Mr Pebereau has made it clear that no French national will lose their job and any cutbacks will fall on non-French staff.

However, the pace of defections at Paribas' City offices because of the uncertainty during the gruelling eight-month bid battle means that in some areas. particularly equity research, the bank is seriously under- strength. It may have to go out into the City to recruit staff to close major gaps.