Geniki has plans, will grow

Geniki Bank, majority-owned by France’s Societe Generale, is set to return to profitability after cleaning up its loan portfolio and divesting non-core assets, executives said yesterday. «The road is now open for profitability,» Geniki’s Chief Executive Jacques Tournebize told reporters at a presentation of the bank’s re-engineering and plans for the future. Geniki, 50.1 percent-owned by Societe Generale, posted a loss of 160.6 million euros last year, mainly due to higher provisions for non-performing loans and compensation for retiring staff. After divesting its shipping portfolio, selling its asset management arm and shutting down its brokerage unit, Geniki is now focused on strengthening its core business, executives said. Asked whether the bank would be looking to acquire any other small bank in Greece to increase its market share, Geniki’s chief executive said no such appetite existed. «We are sure we don’t have to buy a small (Greek) bank and go through the nightmare of a merger just to increase the branch network,» said CEO Jacques Tournebize. «We are doing it on our own.» Geniki will spend 3 million euros on staff training this year, targeting one relationship manager for every client. Its current network of 111 branches will expand to 151 by 2006, with 21 new branches planned for 2005. It is also set for a capital boost of 100 million euros to finance growth in the years ahead through a four-for-10 rights issue at 6 euros a share. SocGen’s red and black cube will be the key visual element in its advertising campaign, executives said. (Reuters)