Laiki Bank posts hefty increase in 9-month profit

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus Laiki Bank posted a 43.3 percent increase in nine-month operating profit yesterday to 48.9 million pounds ($98.7 million), rebounding after cutting its losses from a poorly performing stock market. The bank, Cyprus’s second largest, said profit before tax reached 12.0 million for the nine months, compared to a 33.1-million-pound loss in the corresponding period of 2002. «It is anticipated that the positive trend in operating profits will continue, resulting in increased total operating profits in 2003 compared to 2002,» the bank said in a statement. Laiki, which has banking operations in Cyprus, Greece, Britain and Australia, was particularly hit by the boom and bust of the island’s bourse which started in 1999 and ended in 2001. The bank posted a 48.1 million pound pretax loss in 2002 after moving impaired investments from reserves onto profit and loss. For the first nine months of 2003, losses from disposal and revaluation of securities were cut by 95.2 percent to 600,000 pounds, compared to the same period of 2002. Britain’s HSBC group has a 22 percent stake in Laiki.