As usual, they are clouded by a series of exceptional items, notably the gain on the sale of Bank of the West and the financing of the hedging program requested by the ECB.

When these are restated, the "normalized" profit comes out at EUR 2.8 billion, up by half compared to the first quarter of last year. But beware: the comparable figure is not entirely objective, since at that time the economy was barely recovering from the shock of the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, the investment banking segment - M&A and prime brokerage activities, both of which are highly regarded by European institutional investors - is marking time, whereas last year it was pulling up the overall performance.

On the other hand, and despite widespread fears about the economic situation, BNP remains in "risk-on" mode in its lending activities: the volume of loans is increasing in the individual and corporate segments, thus supporting revenue growth, while provision releases are boosting consolidated profit.

This more aggressive strategy is necessary because BNP is less sensitive to interest rate increases than most of its European peers, especially in Spain. Its diversified model protects it in part from cyclical effects, but it also limits consolidated exposure to increases in the net interest margin.

Moreover, the French market is not accustomed to variable rates, and the very popular Livret A is still indexed to inflation. This makes inflation resistance more complicated for BNP, as its cost structure is rising faster than the income from its lending activities.

In any case, shareholders will appreciate the flair of the management team led by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé. The Bank of the West subsidiary was sold just before the recent collapse of the US banking sector. The deal is somewhat reminiscent of the very prescient exit from Russia decided by BNP as soon as the invasion of Crimea in 2014.

We also welcome the expansion of the tier one capital ratio, which has improved significantly - 100 basis points - since it now reaches 13.6%, a notch above the initial targets.

The group still intends to deliver a return on equity of at least 12% within the next two years. At x0.7 the value of its tangible equity, however, the current market capitalization reflects a certain skepticism among investors. It is true that it is hard to imagine an asset class less popular with them than European banks in general...

In this context, we are pleased to learn that the EUR 15 billion recovered from the sale of BancWest will be used to finance share buybacks and to strengthen insurance activities.