French banks will support Greek bailout: minister

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French banks have agreed to support the bailout package for Greece by keeping their exposure to debt issued by Athens, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday.

"The major French banks have committed to keeping their exposure to Greece," Lagarde said in an interview to LCI television, adding that this "bodes well" for the massive support effort.

"It is satisfying to see that the financial community in France is mobilising as it has in Germany," she added.

The French and German banks have been asked to shore up the 110-billion-euro (143-billion-dollar) rescue package for Greece agreed on Sunday by the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign banks are exposed to 236.2 billion dollars of public and private debt in Greece, of which about 50 billion euros is on the books of French banks, putting them at the top of the list in terms of exposure.

German banks have some 30 billion euros in exposure, taking the third spot behind Switzerland.

French bank Societe Generale announced on Wednesday that it had an exposure of three billion euros to Greek government debt.

France is the second-biggest contributor after Germany to the bailout package, providing 16.8 billion euros over the next three years in loans to save Greece from a debt default.

© 2010 AFP

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