Jefferson Smurfit Group PLC says it has reached an agreement to sell Smurfit Paribas Bank Ltd. to Anglo Irish Bank Corp. PLC for $44 million.

Smurfit Paribas was established in 1983 as a joint venture of Jefferson Smurfit and France's Paribas Group for corporate banking, investment management, treasury, and structured finance.

The bank had $42 million of assets at yearend and $4.4 million in pretax profits.

The deal, which requires regulatory approval, would allow Paribas to refocus on capital markets and corporate banking. The French group sold Credit du Nord, Paribas Belgium, and Paribas Nederland in 1997 as part of a plan to leave retail banking.

Paribas will continue to handle Irish investment banking and asset management customers from Paris and London, the group said.

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