The General Bank yesterday reported pretax profit growth of 42.5 percent to 2.45 billion drachmas in the nine months to September, compared with the same period last year. EBITDA rose 34 percent to 9.6 billion drachmas. Total lending was up 30 percent and deposits 20 percent. Managing Director Ioannis Manos said plans to find a strategic partner were in full swing, but the bank would maintain its present corporate identity with the Army Officers Fund as the basic shareholder and would not proceed with any layoffs. Manos said General Bank aimed to double its present market share of 2-2.5 percent in the next few years and further expand its activities in real estate. Ten more branches will be added to the existing network of 100 in the next six months. Manos expressed his satisfaction with the recent announcement of a merger of the country’s two largest banks, National and Alpha, which would intensify competition and create conditions for the small banks like General to boost their market shares. The experience and prestige of the heads of the two banks, National’s Theodoros Karatzas and Alpha’s Yiannis Costopoulos, issues arising from the merger would be adequately dealt with, he said. Meanwhile, General Bank said in a statement it has acquired an 80-percent interest in ABN Amro Bank Stockbrokers. The company will be renamed General Stockbrokers by the end of the year. General Bank’s Deputy Director-General Spyros Pantelias will be chairman of the board while Isaac Mordechai remains managing director. He said the decision to impose a price freeze came after discussions with suppliers.