Alpha profit slump may show bank trend

Alpha Bank, the country’s third-largest lender, yesterday posted a 71 percent slump in third-quarter profit on rising loan losses and lower trading income. Net income fell to 37.3 million euros from 129.9 million a year earlier, the lender said in a statement, beating analysts’ expectations for a figure of between 31 and 35 million euros. «We undertook a tactical deleveraging of our loan book to further improve our liquidity and capital position as the global regulatory framework around Basel III begins to take shape, while continuing to keep a watchful eye on our cost platform throughout this year,» said CEO Demetrios Mantzounis. Alpha had loan losses and provisions of 223 million euros in the July-September period, little changed from the previous quarter. Alpha’s deposit base stood at 39.9 billion euros at the end of the quarter, strengthened by 199 million euros from the end of June, following two quarters of deposit erosion. «Although Greek sovereign solvency concerns have moderated somewhat, the recessionary environment continues to put pressure on the cash flows of individuals and businesses,» the bank said. The bank’s reliance on funding from the European Central Bank fell to 13.9 billion euros from 14.5 billion at the end of June, with untapped liquidity over 3 billion euros, the bank said. Greek banks have been reliant on ECB funding amid concern over their Greek government bond holdings. Alpha is the first of Greece’s four main banks to report third-quarter results, and has a more conservative strategy and portfolio weighted with relatively safer large corporate loans compared with its peers. Alpha shares eased 0.22 percent yesterday to 4.53 euros, while the stock has fallen 44 percent since the start of year, which is more than the 32 percent drop on the general index in Athens.