NBG’s Q1 net is up by 52 pct

National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, yesterday beat market expectations, as first-quarter net profit grew 52 percent, boosted by the consolidation of Turkish unit Finansbank and growing retail credit business. NBG said net group earnings after minorities reached -381 million versus an average forecast of -359 million in a recent Reuters poll of analysts. The group, present in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Albania, acquired Turkish Finansbank last year as part of its expansion strategy to become a leading player in Southeast Europe. NBG began consolidating Finansbank in the fourth quarter of 2006. Greek banks have been riding a wave of strong credit expansion at home in the last three years as consumers take advantage of low real interest rates to buy real estate and consumer goods. «The contribution of our international activities in Southeast Europe and Turkey to group profitability grew further to over 150 million euros,» NBG’s CEO Takis Arapoglou said in a statement. «Finansbank posted a particularly strong performance, contributing one-third of the group’s after-tax profit. Likewise, operations within Greece continue to grow at a rapid pace,» he added. NBG said net interest income rose 65 percent to -705 million, also above consensus. Analysts were forecasting -690 million. Net interest margin improved by 86 basis points to 4.19 percent. Consumer credit – mortgages and consumer loans – expanded 21 percent year-on-year in Greece in the first quarter. (Reuters)