Alpha Bank gains meet forecasts

Alpha Bank, Greece’s third-largest lender by market value, yesterday reported a 10.9 percent rise in first-half group net profit to 414 million euros, boosted by a growing contribution from operations in southeastern Europe. The figure was in line with expectations as analysts had forecast average net earnings of 414 million euros. The year-on-year comparison does not include an extraordinary gain of 82 million from the sale of Alpha’s insurance arm last year to French insurer AXA. «In the difficult environment of the first half, Alpha’s profitability remained solid as we continued our re-pricing in addition to acquiring profitable new business in Greece and making further inroads in southeastern Europe,» Alpha’s Chief Executive Dimitrios Mantzounis said. «We are committed to pursuing our balanced business model and our medium-term targets.» Alpha Bank, also present in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Cyprus and Ukraine, said operations in southeast Europe contributed 16.4 percent to group pre-tax profit. Lending growth reached 83 percent in the Balkans and 61 percent in Cyprus, resulting in a market share of 8 percent in loans in southeastern Europe, the bank added. Net interest income grew 19.3 percent to 898 million euros, with net interest margin improving by 20 basis points to 3.2 percent.