One of France's leading banks, BNP Paribas, has opened a centre dedicated to the wine industry, with the specific aim of helping wineries through the financial crisis.

The Wine Centre will have three offices based around Bordeaux, with the largest one in Libourne near the vineyards of Saint Emilion and Pomerol, BNP Paribas said this week.

It said the facilities would act as a national centre for the French wine industry.

Centre director Philippe Richebe told local newspaper Sud Ouest: "Our bank has thousands of clients in the wine industry. With the financial crisis, traditional relationships are being tested and opportunities have opened up.

"The wine industry needs complex financial products specifically aimed at its needs, whether investment is for buying barrels, purchasing land and equipment, or financing sales missions."

Richebe's comments were confirmed to just-drinks by BNP Paribas.