BNP Paribas SA, France's largest bank, reported a 6.6% increase in second-quarter profit, helped by the acquisition of Fortis assets and higher investment banking revenue.

The French bank, along with Barclays PLC and Credit Suisse Group AG, reported higher earnings from investment banking as credit markets thawed.

"This was another strong quarter," BNP Paribas Chief Executive Officer Baudouin Prot said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "Certainly we are off to a good start with Fortis."

Earnings at the investment bank exceeded analysts' median estimate; the unit returned to profit in the first quarter following a record pretax loss in the final three months of 2008 triggered by market swings after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. of New York.

BNP Paribas started integrating Fortis in May. The French bank won investors' support in April, ending a seven-month battle to swallow the Belgian and Luxembourg banking assets of what was once Belgium's largest financial-services company. BNP Paribas said it will lay out the industrial plan for Fortis on Dec. 1.

BNP Paribas' Tier 1 capital ratio, a key indicator of financial health, rose to 9.3% at the end of June from 8.8% at the end of March.

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