It was Kerviel’s job to make money from minute differences in the prices of financial instruments, always balancing one portfolio against another so that potential losses were limited.
Not content with this, Kerviel took what was in effect a one-way bet on European stock markets. Had they gone up, he might have been hailed as a financial genius (at one point his position was €1.4 billion in the black, according to reports). But of course they didn’t.
Now the bank has been mooted as a bid target, with fellow French bank BNP Paribus, which made an unsuccessful takeover attempt in 1999, a favourite to snap it up.