National Bank doubles profit in 2005, eyes Turkish market

The National Bank of Greece (NBG) said yesterday its net profit in 2005 doubled from the previous year, fueled by the strong performance of retail lending in the country and abroad. Net profit after minority interests rose to 727.4 million euros from 2004’s 364.4 million – a figure adjusted to exclude the cost of a voluntary retirement program. Net profit for 2004 including that cost was 279.6 million euros. NBG saw a 18.4 percent increase in total lending in 2005. Lending in Greece alone rose 26 percent, boosted by the growth of retail operations. Mortgages rose 31 percent, while consumer credit increased 23.7 percent. Total lending in Southeastern European markets rose 58 percent and retail lending 90 percent. A senior NBG official said the bank, Greece’s largest by assets, is interested in the Turkish market, but refused to comment on rumors of possible acquisitions. «We’re definitely interested in the exciting Turkish market and we are looking at available assets,» Chief Financial Officer Anthimos Thomopoulos said. On Monday Turkish daily Vatan said NBG was interested in the country’s Finansbank AS and had already started talks with Finansbank’s chief executive. «In certain countries, the merger and acquisition model is more attractive because of the existing franchise and our ability to buy into them,» Thomopoulos said. (AP)