October 20, 2015 / 10:44 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-SocGen wants to cut 2,000 jobs at French retail bank - union

(Adds SocGen comment, detail, background)

By Maya Nikolaeva and Julien Ponthus

PARIS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Societe Generale wants to cut 2,000 jobs from its French retail network over then next five years, the CFDT union said on Tuesday, as the country's second-biggest listed bank bets on online business to cut costs.

Banks in France are reorganising their retail businesses to drive growth in a low-interest rate environment, as mobile and Internet banking become widely used and footfall in branches declines.

"The number of job cuts is not confirmed and is the subject of negotiations with unions," Societe Generale said in a statement, adding that any cuts would be made through retirement plans.

CFDT union said in a statement that SocGen is considering closing 20 percent of its roughly 2,000 branches and cutting 2,000 jobs in France.

French banks face higher costs for retail operations than their European peers due to their vast branch networks and relatively poor developed use of digital services, HSBC analysts said in a note.

BNP Paribas closed 52 branches in France in 2014 and could close around 100 branches this year, according to a union representative.

France banks have 11 employees per branch on average compared with six in Spain, HSBC said.

SocGen said last month it planned to cut 420 staff in France via voluntary departures and non-renewal of expiring contracts as part of a drive to save 850 million euros ($967 million) between 2015 and 2017. ($1 = 0.8792 euros) (Editing by James Regan and David Clarke)

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