National and Alpha, two of Greece’s top banks, alongside Piraeus and Eurobank, continued their bid to rid themselves of their bad loans, half-year results revealed on Thursday. Both banks’ efforts to repair their balance sheets resulted in significantly improved profits.
National, Greece’s second largest bank, posted an operating profits of 258 million euros, up from 70 million in the same period in 2018. Net profits, which include proceeds from the sale of property services subsidiary Pangea, were 233 million.
National plans to sell a total of 1.9 billion euros’ worth of bad loans by the end of the year.
Alpha, the smaller of the “big four” Greek banks, further strengthened its capital base. Its Common Equity Tier 1, a measure mostly consisting of common stock held, as well as bonds, reached 17.8 percent, giving the bank capital reserves of 1.9 billion euros. The improvement is mainly due to the rise in the valuation of Greek Treasury bonds.
Alpha’s bond portfolio produced an income of 123.7 million; its revenue from interest was 388.6 million and income from fees and commissions reached 81.2 million. Write-offs were stable at 246 million euros.
Those factors were behind the sharp rise in half-year net profits to 86.9 million euros, from 12.7 million in the same period in 2018. On a quarterly basis, net profits from January to March were 27.5 million and from April to June, 59.4 million.
Deposits rose 5.6 percent to 33.3 billion euros at the end of June, while new loans were 1.5 billion and management believes they will increase further in the second half of the year.
Alpha Bank CEO Vassilios Psaltis said he was upbeat about the Greek economy’s prospects and stated his belief that the lifting of the remaining capital controls will provide the impetus for the Greek economy to heal completely.
While briefing analysts on the results, Psaltis left open the possibility of increasing bond buys by 500 million euros, taking advantage of the leeway granted by regulatory authorities.