In a further signs of the depth of the global financial crisis, a French government-controlled bank, Caisse des Depots (CDC), has announced its first net loss in nearly 200 years of business.
The 2008 results revealed an historic net loss for CDC
The bank reported a net loss of nearly 1.5 billion euros ($1.99 billion) last year as a result of the plunge in the financial markets.
The organization went to great lengths to explain that the loss did not arise from exposure to toxic assets. In 2007 it recorded a net profit of 2.49 billion euros.
"We have no toxic assets," CDC's chief executive officer, Augustin de Romanet, told reporters on Thursday, adding that "the auditors have confirmed that."
When asked about the influence of the new government sovereign wealth fund FSI on his company, de Romanet said: "The FSI wasn't imposed upon us; it subscribed to the expansion of the mission" of CDC, which is to support the French economy.
The CDC receives regulatory deposits from the French government and acts as an investment arm for long-term policy.
The bank said it had set aside 2.082 billion euros for its 17.6-percent holding in Franco-Belgian financial house Dexia and for its 20.1-percent interest in French civil engineering group Eiffage. It also said it had laid out 921 million euros for its portfolio of shares.
The Belgian and French governments, as well as CDC, contributed to a 6.4 billion-euro bailout of Dexia late last year. De Romanet said he was "very confident" about Dexia's prospects.