The French-Belgian bank Dexia, rescued with government support, reported on Thursday a net loss of 11.6 billion euros ($15.4 billion) for 2011, marking a record for French banks.
This huge figure is not, however, the biggest loss reported by a French company, coming way behind Vivendi which lost 23.3 billion euros and France Telecom which lost 20.7 billion euros in 2002 as a result of the Internet bubble.
The bank is a leading casualty in Europe of the financial and then eurozone debt crises and risk aversion on the interbank market.
The bank was strangled by its high dependency on refinancing on the capital markets and by huge holdings of bonds, including a large amount of Greek government bonds.
At the end of 2011, several financial establishments declined to provide it with market funding.
Dexia was forced to turn to central banks for funds, and its borrowings from this source rose by 17 billion euros between the end of June and the end of December last year.
At the end of the year, the total of its loans from central banks was 31 billion euros, the statement issued on Thursday showed.
Dexia said that it hoped to reduce this amount by issuing debt, backed by public guarantees.
The price of shares in the business was showing a fall of slightly more than 2.0 percent in morning trading, having opened with a drop of more than 4.0 percent.
Meanwhile the spokeswoman for the French government, Valerie Pecresse, described as "shocking" a big pension sweetner for the former head of the bank.
She noted that President Nicolas Sarkozy, standing for re-election in a forthcoming presidential ballot, wanted executive pay to reflect performance and that he would ban such payouts.
Dexia reported that the disposal of the Belgian retail banking arm cost 4.0 billion euros in capital loss, and provisions for exposure to bad loans to Greece cost 3.4 billion euros.
The sale of the business making loans to French local authorities, which formed the second main part of a restructuring of the group, cost 984 million euros in capital loss.
Earlier in the year the bank had booked an exceptional charge of 2.6 billion euros, but it still had to request additional support from the governments of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
The three countries provided guarantees worth 90 billion euros to ensure that Dexia could complete its restructuring and asset sales.
France also guaranteed part of the losses which could arise at the subsidiary which carries loans made to French local authorities and will become an indirect shareholder.
The bank specialised in financing local authorities, but many French municipalities have found themselves in serious financial difficulties, blaming in part the structure of loans from Dexia which they have pushed to restructure.
In 2008 the bank lost 3.3 billion euros and was rescued for the first time by France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Dexia was already having great difficulty in refinancing itself on the interbank markets.