ECONOMY

Alpha Bank nine-month profits dip

Alpha Bank, Greece’s third-largest lender, reported a 3.6 percent drop in nine-month net profits to 568 million euros, below market expectations, as loan growth slowed and trading income weakened. Analysts were expecting nine-month net profits of 579.8 million euros, according to Reuters. Nine-month net interest income rose 16.6 percent to 1.4 billion euros. Net loan growth decelerated to 25.9 percent, reaching 49.6 billion euros and income from financial operations stood at 38.1 million euros, affected by adverse market conditions. «We are taking concrete steps to prepare ourselves for the deteriorating economic environment,» Alpha Bank’s managing director, Dimitris Mantzounis, said in a statement. «We are building loan loss reserves pre-emptively in anticipation of weakening credit conditions.» Alpha Bank has operations in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Cyprus. The group said pretax profit from its southeastern European operations rose 44 percent to 119 million euros. The bank’s Tier 1 ratio, a measure of financial strength, continues to be a «comfortable» 8.7 percent, the company said, adding that «in line with the new capital standards imposed by international competition, we will apply to place preference shares with the Hellenic Republic.» That’s part of a 28-billion-euro package created by the Greek government to support banks and the economy.