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In a $2.2 billion deal announced in Paris, the government of France sold its 10.9 percent stake in the bank Crédit Lyonnaise at auction to larger rival BNP Paribas. Other bidders for the 38 million shares owned by the government were not identified, although banking industry sources said they were Société Général, Crédit Agricole, and German financial services giant Allianz. The deal makes BNP Paribas the largest shareholder in Crédit Lyonnaise and, analysts said, sets up a potential takeover battle with Crédit Agricole, France's second-largest bank, which owns 10.5 percent.

The world's largest bank, Mizuho Financial Holdings, is expected to announce today that it's cutting the pay of 30,000 employees by up to 20 percent, two major Tokyo newspapers reported. Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun also said the company would eliminate another 500 jobs by offering early retirement to workers 45 and older. Mizuho already is moving to completion of a program announced earlier to cut 5,000 jobs. Mizuho is one of the Japanese banks burdened by $355 billion in nonperforming loans.

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