REAL ESTATE - BNP Paribas has played down its decision to sell part of its share in French property firm Klepierre.

A spokeswoman for the bank described the decision to reduce its shareholding from above 53% to below 51% as “not a significant event”, adding that the bank had no intention of relinquishing majority ownership. BNP Paribas has been the property firm’s reference shareholder since its flotation.

Analysts appeared to take the bank at its word. Standard & Poor’s credit rating and outlook for Klepierre remained unchanged.

S&P analyst Xavier Buffon said: “Our decision reflects our analysis, which is based on criteria such as the business model and management profile, rather than on what BNP Paribas does or doesn’t do. We don’t think these have changed.”

Earlier in February Klepierre posted positive results driven by rent rises and growth in its shopping centre management business.

According to Buffon, the move will not threaten the firm’s voting rights – around 69% before the divestment. Any change in control would require another shareholder to hold a third of voting rights and Klepierre to be downgraded to speculative status. The threat is largely hypothetical.

Klepierre had no comment on the move, saying it was a matter solely for BNP Paribas.