ATEbank H1 profits tumble 47 percent

Greece’s sixth-largest lender ATEbank said yesterday first-half group net profits fell 47.3 percent year-on-year to 70.1 million euros, hurt by weaker trading income. The figures, however, beat market expectations, helping to send the bank’s stock more than 8 percent higher to 2.41 euros on the Athens bourse whose benchmark general index gained 0.85 percent. Net interest income at the state-controlled bank grew 0.8 percent to 305 million euros. The bank said net fee and commission income fell to 34.8 million euros from 43.1 million in the same period a year earlier. «The low level of the loans-to-deposits ratio and the satisfactory cost of drawing deposits comprise a significant competitive advantage during conditions of low liquidity,» the bank said. ATEbank, which was set up in 1929 to give cheap loans to Greek farmers, has been focusing on lending to consumers and small and medium-size businesses to boost profit as global financial market turmoil weighs on banks’ earnings. The company has also sold non-banking assets to finance a push into faster-growing Balkan markets, a strategy that some Greek rivals began years earlier. Credit to households – mortgages and consumer loans – rose 28.7 percent in the first half of the year to 6.9 billion euros from 5.4 billion. Deposits were up 5 percent to 20 billion, with the bank’s loans-to-deposits ratio at 89 percent.