NBG upbeat on Q1 results, eyes Turkey

National Bank will report a rise in first-quarter profit, and the proportion of income from its international units is set to rise in the coming years, the chief executive of Greece’s largest bank said yesterday. «The bank is progressing very well. Its first-quarter profit will be higher than year-ago figures,» Takis Arapoglou told shareholders at the annual meeting. National Bank has not set a date for first-quarter results. It posted a forecast-beating 30 percent rise in pretax profit in the first quarter of last year. Arapoglou said the bank would speed up its expansion into Southeastern Europe and Turkey, adding that profits from international operations are expected to make up 12 percent of total profit in 2007 from 8.5 percent now. National Bank has said it is interested in acquisitions or alliances in Turkey. Shareholders approved a share buyback plan for up to 5 percent of the bank’s outstanding shares this year at a maximum of 37 euros a share and a 2004 dividend per share of 0.60 euros. Shares will trade ex-dividend today. On Greek cement firm Heracles, majority-owned by France’s Lafarge and in which National holds a 26.4 percent stake, Arapoglou said the bank was in talks with the majority stakeholder on selling its holding. He added that National Bank would look for other solutions if it did not reach a deal. The bank has said it aims to sell non-core activities. The bank was waiting for proposals from its advisers regarding its plans to transfer management of its majority-owned luxury hotel complex Astir Palace to a strategic investor, Arapoglou said. Separately, Alpha Bank, Greece’s second-largest lender by assets, said it will report first-quarter results on June 29, instead of a previously scheduled May 25 announcement. The bank said it rescheduled the earnings release date after the securities regulator decided to extend the reporting deadline for first-quarter results to the end of June. Greek listed companies have to report financial results under international accounting standards, beginning from this year’s first quarter. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have been adopted by the European Union from January 1 for Europe’s listed firms. (Reuters)

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