Amazingly, an investment bank with weak numbers rules out layoffs

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Leave it to French investment bankers to figure out how to avoid layoffs while their global competitors push thousands of employees out the door to shore up share prices.

The Paris headquartered global banking powerhouse, BNP Paribas reported its second quarter results today and they weren't fantastic - year-over-year its corporate and investment bank revenues were down 2.6% on the first half of 2010, but compared to Q1, second quarter revenues slipped a whopping 23%.

In line with most other investment banks, fixed income sales and trading revenues dropped (by a relatively resilient 12.2% year-over-year), but again compared to the strong first quarter, this is a 32% decline.

Should employees of the French bank therefore be bracing themselves for an inevitable "cost efficiency" announcement? Well, no, actually.

In an interview with Reuters, BNP Paribas' chief executive Baudouin Prot said that costs at the bank were under control, and that its prudence when recruiting during the last year or so has meant layoffs are unnecessary.

"We didn't go for the go-go hires as peers did in the last few quarters. If we didn't go for the go we didn't have to go for the stop," he said.

Last week, the French bank also indicated it was expanding its prime broking business.

Overall, Europe's largest lender by assets, said second-quarter profits grew by 1.1% as higher consumer-banking earnings helped soften the blow from a loss on its Greek government-debt holdings.

Although BNP Paribas gets most of its revenue from France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy the company also owns BancWest, a network of branches in the U.S.

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