Cyprus Popular Bank says expects reduced 2012 loss

Cyprus Popular Bank expects its 2012 results to show a reduced after-tax loss compared with its record loss in 2011, it said in a stock exchange filing.

In an announcement dated Dec. 31 but released on Wednesday, the nationalised bank said lower losses were anticipated from reduced impairment charges on Greek government bonds and goodwill.

It said however it would book higher provisions and anticipated lower operating income in a challenging business climate in both Greece and Cyprus, its two main markets.

Popular, Cyprus’s second-largest bank, reported a 2.5 billion euro ($3.3 billion) net loss in 2011.

Popular was nationalised in mid-2012 after its regulatory capital took a severe hit from its heavy exposure to a writedown on its holdings of Greek sovereign debt.

The Cypriot state now owns an estimated 84 percent of Popular. Attempts to save banks forced the government itself to seek financial aid from its EU partners and the IMF in a bailout estimated at around 17 billion euros.

Last week Bank of Cyprus, the island’s largest bank, warned of worse results in 2012 on tougher provisioning regulations. [Reuters]