BNP, Bear Stearns, Credit Suisse, Dresdner, Fortis

The Financial Times reports that French bank BNP Paribas is to acquire the Paris-based private banking unit of Dexia in a deal worth around $263m. According to the newspaper, the purchase will increase BNP's private banking assets to around $184bn, taking the bank into the top 10 private banks worldwide.

Bloomberg reports that Bear Stearns reported its final-quarter profits Thursday. They came in up 38% to $562.8m, after strong trading and investment banking revenues. The numbers represented a record for the fourth period. For the full year, profits were up 40% at $2.1bn.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission has suspended a former Credit Suisse convertible-bond trader after finding that he traded on inside information. The case centers on a 2003 call during which Stephane Hug learned the terms of a Sumitomo Light Metal Industries convertible-bond issue. Hug is alleged to have subsequently sold 204,000 shares in the company.

Although Hug didn't breach Hong Kong's securities laws, as the sale was made in Japan, Credit Suisse suspended him for a month and he was forced to forfeit his $400,000 bonus. The regulator has now found, however, that Hug breached its code of conduct and has suspended him for 4 months.

Financial News reports that Rick Weinstein, Dresdner Kleinwort's head of credit derivatives, left the firm last week. He is said to be the eighth MD to have left the investment banking unit during the latest downsizing.

Finally, the newspaper also reports that Brigitte Boone has been appointed by Fortis to head investment banking. Simon Barnasconi will head up corporate finance, which will be part of a new investment banking group.

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