ECONOMY

Eurobank’s H1 profit up 31 percent

EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest lender, reported a better-than-expected 31 percent rise in its first-half group net profits yesterday, thanks to strong lending volumes at home and in Southeast Europe. Eurobank’s earnings came in at -417 million. Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected first-half earnings to grow 25 percent to -397 million. The bank also raised its full-year profit target, expecting earnings of at least -820 million in 2007 and predicted that profits would grow to -1.55 billion by 2010. «The expansion of the loan portfolio in New Europe was substantial in the first six months of the year, with total loans climbing 109 percent to -6.2 billion,» the group said in a statement. Net interest income rose 22.3 percent to -927 million. Eurobank, also present in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia and Turkey, said its network in Greece and abroad reached 1,400 branches and points of sale, of which 900 were outside Greece. In view of new acquisitions and to further grow its franchise abroad, Eurobank is set for a -1.2 billion rights issue tomorrow. The terms will be decided today. «This robust performance reinforces the strategy of the group to further enhance its footprint in New Europe where it is already present and expand in other countries which demonstrate significant growth prospects,» the bank said. (Reuters)