National Bank’s profits rise considerably in H1

The National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, said yesterday first-half net profits grew 61 percent, above forecasts, boosted by the consolidation of Turkish Finansbank and growing retail credit. NBG said net group earnings after minorities rose to -878 million versus an average forecast of -865 million in a recent Reuters poll of analysts. «Almost 40 percent of the group’s core profit is derived from Southeast Europe and Turkish operations, where growth in business and profitability has been the highest, vindicating our strategy to broaden and diversify the group’s sources of income,» said CEO Takis Arapoglou in a statement. NBG acquired Turkey’s Finansbank last year as part of its expansion strategy into Southeast Europe. It started consolidating Finansbank’s earnings in the fourth quarter of 2006. Finansbank contributed 31 percent to group profit, or -244 million, NBG said. Net interest income rose 63 percent in the first half to reach -1.443 billion. The group’s net interest margin improved by three basis points to 4.22 percent in the second quarter, with Finansbank playing a key role with a margin of 7 percent. NBG said consumer credit and mortgages expanded by 15 and 20 percent year-on-year in Greece, reaching -19.9 billion. (Reuters)