BNP Paribas Exits Commodities Finance Business in the US

(Bloomberg) — BNP Paribas SA is exiting its commodities finance business in the US, following earlier retreats in other parts of the world.

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“The decision taken to exit this business was consistent with our approach in EMEA,” the bank said in a statement in response to questions. “The impact is limited, and BNP Paribas remains deeply committed to the US and Americas” as well as its energy and renewables clients, it said.

BNP sold the book of loans to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., according to people with knowledge of the situation. The Paris-based bank told clients and employees about the decision on Wednesday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information was private. The sale involves commodities finance only and excludes its commodity derivatives platform, the people said, declining to share financial terms of the deal or the number of affected employees.

Representatives for BNP and MUFG declined to comment.

BNP — once one of the largest lenders to commodity traders — has been shrinking its exposure to financing commodities for some time. In 2014, it was fined almost $9 billion to resolve accusations it violated US sanctions involving Iran, Cuba and Sudan. In 2020, it suspended new commodity trade finance deals in EMEA after racking up heavy losses. Last year, BNP halted financing oil pumped from the Ecuadorian Amazon after climate activists criticized the bank and others for financing fossil fuels that contribute to climate change while promoting corporate responsibility.

The sale to MUFG is expected to close in the next three to six months, and some employees will be transferred to MUFG while others will remain at BNP, one of the people said.

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