Societe Generale profits hit by Greece, toxic assets

Societe Generale, France’s second-biggest listed bank, said on Thursday quarterly profit slumped by a worse-than-expected 88.6 percent, hit by toxic assets at its investment bank and further write-downs on its Greek sovereign debt.

The bank however said that it had met tougher regulatory capital requirements six months early, with a core Tier 1 ratio of 9 percent under Basel 2.5, following in the footsteps of larger rival BNP Paribas.

SocGen had already warned it would not pay a dividend for 2011 to meet these targets.

SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea, who recently overhauled his management team after a torrid 2011 for the bank’s shares, told CNBC he was still cautious on 2012 despite a good start to the year in capital-markets activity.

“I’m happy with the start of the year regarding capital-markets activity…(but) I remain overall prudent for 2012,» Oudea said.

Although the European Central Bank’s massive injection of funds has been an important move, Oudea added, he emphasised there would be weak economic growth ahead.

SocGen said fourth-quarter earnings fell to 100 million euros ($130.66 million), from 874 million a year earlier, missing forecasts for 190 million according to a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

Revenues fell 12.4 percent, to 6.01 billion euros, beating forecasts for 5.81 billion euros.

The bank took a 162 million euro charge on its Greek sovereign debt, which it has now provisioned to 75 percent.

SocGen’s key corporate and investment bank division slumped to a net quarterly loss of 482 million euros. The falling value of toxic assets left over from the 2008 financial crisis, as well as the eurozone debt crisis’ impact on financial markets, cut the division’s revenues by two thirds