France\'s BPCE banking group said Wednesday its first quarter net profit dropped by nearly a third to 665 million euros ($861 million) as exceptional items weighed on its results. BPCE, which includes the Caisse d\'Epargne and Banque Populaire retail banks, said that without a revaluation of its debt and depreciation of its stake in Italian bank Banca Carige, net profit would have dropped only a fifth to 821 million euros. BPCE\'s investment unit Natixis posted a first quarter net profit of 185 million euros, a drop of 55 percent from the same 2011 period. The bank said that in the first quarter, net banking income, a key measure of the difference between the cost of attracting deposits and the price of lending them, slid 5.8 percent to 5.45 billion euros. It attributed the erosion to efforts to meet higher core capital requirements, and had shed 9.4 billion euros in assets since last June in order to lower its liquidity requirements. BPCE said it had raised its core Tier 1 capital ratio by 0.4 percentage points over the quarter to 9.5 percent. European regulators have required the region\'s banks to meet higher capital ratios quicker than agreed under Basel III international regulations in order to ensure they can handle shocks from the debt crisis. They must have 9.0 percent core capital by the end of June.