BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, is planning a sale of its retail banking operations in Egypt as the lender seeks to shore up its capital base and exit non-core operations, two banking sources said on Tuesday.
BNP, which has around 70 branches in the North African country, may raise as much as $400 million if the sale goes through, one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Both the sources said talks for the asset disposal by the French lender are at very early stages.
The company has been shedding assets to meet tougher capital requirements under new banking regulations, intended to crack down on risk taking, that have forced many European banks to slash their balance sheets.
The sources did not want to be named as the matter is not public.
A spokeswoman for BNP said the lender would examine any "expressions of interest" for the business while declining to provide any additional details. Dow Jones reported the news earlier.
"BNP has had a strategic review of their international operations and decided to hive off the Egyptian retail business. It's not a massive business and talks are happening at very initial stages," the first source said.
Qatar National Bank (QNB), the largest lender in the Gulf Arab state, is one of the parties which has expressed initial interest, the source said.
QNB, which has an ambitious expansion plan regionally, recently lost out to Russia's Sberbank in a bidding process for Turkey's DenizBank.
The bank was not immediately available for comment.