ECONOMY

Piraeus Bank’s 2008 profits disappoint

Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fourth-biggest lender, said full-year profits declined 49 percent after setting aside more money for potential bad loans as the global economy deteriorated. Net income fell to 315.1 million euros from 622.1 million euros in 2007, missing the 544-million-euro median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The bank said net attributable earnings before provisions grew 5 percent to 530 million euros, which was in line with analyst forecasts. «Unprecedented conditions in the last months dictated the adjustment of our policy to the new facts, aimed at shielding the group and strengthening the balance sheet,» said Piraeus Chairman Michael Sallas in a statement. He added that the bank took an additional 215 million euros in provisions in the last quarter on top of the 173 million initially planned. «Without a doubt, 2009-10 will not be easy, However, we are ready to take advantage of opportunities and tackle challenges. Greece continues to make up more than 80 percent of our activities,» he said. Piraeus, present in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Cyprus, Egypt, Ukraine and the United States, saw net interest income growth of 26 percent to 1.159 billion euros, with the net interest margin at 3 percent. Analysts described the figures as disappointing, as they also pointed out that the quality of Piraeus Bank’s loan book is deteriorating.