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BNP Paribas plans to accelerate expansion in emerging markets

BNP Paribas SA, France's largest lender by market value, plans to speed up expansion in the Mediterranean region and eastern Europe by opening more branches in countries such as Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Ukraine. The company is opening 139 branches in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions this year, and plans to open more then 130 others in 2007, Paris-based BNP Paribas said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. In Ukraine, its Ukrsibbank unit is also opening new branches, said the company. BNP Paribas added that it wants to expand in retail banking in Russia as well. „This rapid development is chiefly centered on the Mediterranean basin, an area that BNP Paribas has made one of its major strategic priorities in recent years, and on far-eastern Europe, where the group's focus on the retail banking market is more recent,” said BNP Paribas in the statement. (Bloomberg)