ECONOMY

BoC profits, network are set to grow

The Bank of Cyprus (BoC) is set to show a major increase in earnings, up to 48.5 percent in the first half of this year, according to a report by Marfin Analysis. The report suggests that the net profits of the group will reach 126.3 million Cyprus pounds (-216 million) in the first half of the year. Net revenues from interests are expected to increase by 27.2 percent, to 208.2 million Cyprus pounds (-356 million), which is attributed to the strong expansion of the loans portfolio as well as the high interest rate margin. BoC will announce its first-half results next Wednesday. In the first quarter of the year, the bank’s profits came to -107 million, rising by 67 percent year-on-year. In 2006, BoC recorded a 153 percent increase in net profits which rose to 183 million pounds (-313.2 million) and has forecast a 2007 net profit of 240 million pounds (-408 million). Expansion Also yesterday, Bank of Cyprus said it had opened a branch in Romania as part of a wider strategy to expand into the Balkans, Russia and Ukraine. The Bucharest branch would focus on attracting the business community before looking at rapidly enlarging its presence in the Romanian capital and elsewhere in the country. «We consider it feasible to operate 10 new branches and business service centers annually, giving priority to Bucharest, Timisoara and Constanta,» BoC said in a statement. «With this undoubted boost to financial liquidity, the group will establish itself in Romania and begin its expansion into the Balkans, Russia and Ukraine,» it added. Expanding into Russia and Ukraine is the main priority of the bank at this stage. Its managers are also planning certain acquisitions; by buying out two small banks, the group is expected to gain some time (required for the allocation of the essential licenses from the authorities) before achieving immediate growth in those big markets. BoC has already received permission to begin operating in Russia and its first two branches will open in Moscow and St Petersburg. (Kathimerini, AFP)