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French regulator calls on lenders not to pay dividends

France's financial regulator has called on the country's banks not to pay dividends amid the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution said it was "essential" for banks to hold onto capital to maintain their ability to support the economy given the deep uncertainty due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Sign up for our weekly coronavirus newsletter here, and read our latest coverage on the crisis here.

The regulator advised banks not to pay any dividends or buy back shares until at least Oct. 1, in line with recommendations by the ECB.

French lenders BNP Paribas SA and Société Générale SA said they will take the ECB's recommendations into consideration, Reuters reported March 30. Meanwhile, the boards of directors of local peers Crédit Agricole SA and Groupe BPCE unit Natixis are reportedly set to discuss the matter in their upcoming meetings.