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BNP Paribas sees significant staff cuts in France

A BNP Paribas bank logo is seen pinned on a jacket during the presentation of the bank's 2012 annual results in Paris February 14, 2013. REU
A BNP Paribas bank logo is seen pinned on a jacket during the presentation of the bank's 2012 annual results in Paris February 14, 2013. REU

PARIS (Reuters) - BNP Paribas , France's No. 1 bank, told shareholders it expects a "significant" drop in staffing levels in its home market as it moves to offset the shrinking economy.

BNP, which is highly exposed to mature European markets, is in the early stages of a plan to cut 2 billion euros ($2.57 billion) in annual costs over the next three years and is set to launch a new Europe-wide online bank.

"Our employee levels will go down in France this year," Baudouin Prot told the bank's annual shareholder meeting.

BNP will present its plans to unions next month, Prot added.

Europe's banks are in a push to cut costs and rethink their business models as tougher regulations and a slowing economy rob them of traditional profit streams.

French banks including Societe Generale and Credit Agricole have pledged to keep cutting costs in the face of a worsening economy as lucrative retail revenues are squeezed by consumer belt-tightening.

Analysts have said branch closures will be necessary to bring profitability rapidly in line with peers in the UK and Spain.

($1 = 0.7775 euros)

(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Elena Berton and James Regan)

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