NBG profits sound a positive note

National Bank (NBG), the country’s largest lender, reported better-than-expected third-quarter net profit yesterday and said it will take part in the government’s 28-billion-euro liquidity injection plan. NBG said third-quarter net earnings were unchanged from the previous two quarters at 400 million euros despite the «seasonality of the summer months and the credit crisis in September.» According to Reuters, analysts were expecting net profit of 379.6 million euros, on average. «Another quarter of prudent loan expansion, strong capital generation and liquidity preservation places us in an advantageous position in view of the very challenging environment,» NBG Chief Executive Takis Arapoglou said in a statement. The group, present in Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Albania and Egypt, reported nine-month net earnings of 1.235 billion euros, up 7 percent from the same period in 2007. While net profit in Greece in the nine-month period contracted 7 percent to 732 million euros, the group’s units in Southeast Europe increased earnings by 64 percent to 169 million, or 13 percent of total profit. Finansbank in Turkey contributed 363 million euros in the period, up 21 percent year-on-year. Net interest margin remained at 4.25 percent, the same as last year, despite the rise in interbank rates internationally and intensifying competition to attract more deposits. Regarding the government’s plan to boost liquidity, National Bank said it «acknowledges its unique role in supporting enterprises, households and the economy in general.» «NBG intends to participate in the government’s liquidity support scheme, making use of the relevant measures,» the bank said. Shares in National Bank, which has a market capitalization of almost 7 billion euros, fell 5.79 percent on the Athens bourse yesterday to 14 euros before profit figures were made public.