Small banks post lower pretax profit

Apart from the National Bank of Greece, three other banks announced 2001 results yesterday. The Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) posted a 16.3-percent decline in pretax profit to 206.2 million euros. Consolidated net profit was 127.7 million euros. «The result is considered satisfactory if account is taken of a significant fall in interest rates, intensified competition, uncertainty in international markets and a serious downturn in the domestic stock market for the second consecutive year in 2001,» ATE said in a statement. Assets rose 5.8 percent to 16.5 billion euros, loans after provisions 17 percent to 10.5 billion euros and deposits 11.1 percent to 11.9 billion euros. Return on equity was 12 percent. ATE’s consolidated financial statements do not include the results of subsidiaries in which the bank holds significant stakes, such as Agricultural Insurance, Agricultural Life, Hellenic Sugar Industry and Duty Free Shops. ATE said it will not distribute a dividend for 2001. The Bank of Cyprus, the only foreign group listed on the Athens bourse, announced a 4.9 percent decline in pretax profit to 115.7 million euros. The bank attributes the decline to three factors: A fall in interest rates in Cyprus, which had an adverse impact on net income from interest; a fall in interest rates internationally, which exerted pressure on the margin in foreign deposits; and introduction of the euro in Greece, which had a negative influence on commission revenue and profits from currency trading. Other factors cited as negative were the continuing stock market downturn in Cyprus and Greece, the costs of expanding the branch network in Greece from 31 to 60 last year, and a 53 percent increase in provisions for bad debts to 58 million euros. Group assets rose 22 percent to 13.4 billion euros, loans 12 percent to 7.7 billion euros and deposits 22 percent to 10.9 billion euros. In Greece, deposits grew 82 percent to 2.6 billion euros and loans 25 percent to 2.1 billion euros. After-tax profit grew 8.8 percent to 81 million euros. The Bank of Cyprus will distribute a dividend of 22.6 eurocents per share for 2001. The Bank of Attica reported a 2.4 percent pretax profit growth to 21.0 million euros, with net interest revenue rising 23.3 percent, commission revenue falling 13 percent, and revenue from financial transactions, stocks and holdings declining 12.6 percent. Assets rose 64.8 percent to 2.01 billion euros, deposits and repos 73.6 percent to 1.52 billion euros, and loans 44.2 percent to 844.2 million euros. Attica, which currently has 50 branches, said it aims to increase this number by another 10 within 2002.

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