By Maya Nikolaeva
PARIS (Reuters) - French banks lost ground in the 2016 ranking of the most active financial institutions on primary and secondary government debt markets, according to public debt management agency Agence France Tresor (AFT).
Banks in Europe have retreated from primary dealing in government bonds, saying regulatory constraints are adding to the costs involved.
BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) held on to top place in 2016 but lost ground to HSBC (HSBA.L) and JP Morgan (JPM.N) in the primary and secondary markets rankings published on Friday.
Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) and Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA) also slipped -- the first time since 2013 that France's three biggest banks had not occupied the top three places in the AFT's overall, general rankings.
Primary dealers are appointed by national authorities to buy bonds in auctions and distribute them to investors in the secondary market. The reward for banks that participate in auctions is a mandate for a syndicated deal where they will earn fees.
(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)