The Bank of Cyprus group yesterday announced a 28.1-percent year-on-year drop in first-quarter profits before provisions and tax to 31.2 million euros. «The fall was expected given reductions in interest rates and the negative consequences of the recession on the global and Cypriot economy,» the bank said in a statement. Results for the year as a whole are projected to improve significantly, largely thanks to a business plan already being implemented successfully, the statement added. Assets rose year-on-year 15.9 percent to 13.5 billion euros, total lending 13.1 percent to 7.94 billion, and total deposits 16.8 percent to 11.20 billion euros. The bank’s Greek network realized a 55.5-percent year-on-year rise in deposits to 2.81 billion euros, and a 23.5-percent increase in lending to 2.24 billion euros. «The bank continues the dynamic development of its operations in Greece which remains the chief axis of its growth abroad,» said the statement. The Bank of Cyprus, the only foreign firm listed on the Athens bourse, now has 60 branches in Greece and a 3-percent market share.