French banks to participate in new Greece bailout: Sarkozy

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French banks and insurance companies will participate in a new Greek financial rescue programme "on a voluntary basis", French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday.

"The answer is yes, but it's not only the banks but insurance companies and that was part of negotiations engaged with Angela Merkel," Sarkozy said at a Brussels press conference responding to a reporter's question.

"We've had a lot of meetings with French banks and insurance companies. And I can tell you that we know of meetings taking place in eurozone countries with equivalent organisations and I can tell you there is no problem and nothing to fear," he said.

"On how this is done, we'll communicate at the right moment, but there is a willingness to save the euro, to maintain solidarity in the eurozone, which is extremely strong," the president said.

France is the country most exposed to Greek sovereign debt, mostly held by private institutions.

In the banking sector, BNP Paribas holds five billion euros in Greek debt, Societe Generale holds 2.5 billion euros and Credit Agricole holds 600 million euros.

Insurance group AXA is exposed to 300 million euros and CNP Assurances 127 million euros.

© 2011 AFP

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