Bank BPH in branch

Poland’s Bank BPH plans to almost triple the size of
its retail network to 500 branches after its sale to General
Electric’s financial arm, GE Money, BPH chief executive Jozef
Wancer was quoted as saying by the Rzeczpospolita
newspaper. Wancer, who built BPH into Poland’s number three retail
lender, has overseen the sale of 200 branches and the bank’s brand
to GE as part of a deal to merge the bulk of its business with
UniCredit unit Bank Pekao.

Mergers and acquisitions
Westpac acquires Rams franchise

Westpac, Australia’s fourth-largest banking group, has acquired the
Rams Home Loans franchise distribution business for A$140 million
($126 million) in cash. The business to be acquired includes the
Rams brand, franchise network and associated mortgage origination
and servicing systems and contracts needed to run the distribution
business. It will add an additional retail channel and extend
Westpac’s retail footprint by more than 10 percent via an
additional 92 stores operated by 53 franchisees. Rams Home Loans, a
Sydney-based mortgage lender, was badly hit by the US subprime

HBOS drops mortgage target

In a fundamental shift of strategy, HBOS, the UK’s largest mortgage
player, has dropped its 15 to 20 percent target for net lending
market share in the UK to channel more resources into the less
competitive and more profitable area of corporate lending. Higher
money market borrowing rates have already filtered through to
mortgage costs and “will inevitably lead to a slowdown in the
mortgage market”, HBOS CEO Andy Hornby said. In the first six
months of 2007, the bank’s share of net lending dipped to 8 percent
as aggressive lenders, such as the now-troubled Northern Rock, won
more business.

BNP Paribas enters Libya

France’s BNP Paribas has been chosen by the Libyan authorities to
become the strategic partner of Sahara Bank, the first privatised
bank in Libya. After obtaining all the authorisations required, BNP
Paribas has now acquired 19 percent of Sahara Bank’s capital. The
French group, the country’s second-largest by assets, can increase
its holding to 51 percent of the share capital within three to five


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