Improved organic profits and a tighter rein on expenses contributed to a 14.4 percent jump in consolidated pretax profits in the first nine months of the year, Piraeus Bank reported yesterday. The bank, the fifth largest in the country in terms of assets, said net profits after minorities rose 6.8 percent to 54.4 million euros in the first nine months, with pretax profits increasing to 95 million euros. «The profit gain came principally from a sharp improvement in organic revenues, namely net interest income, and a curb on general expenditure,» Piraeus Bank said. Organic profits increased by a hefty 77.6 percent to 109 million euros, underlining the bank’s successive push into the retail market. Net interest income went up by 31.9 percent to 271 million euros, while the net interest margin rose to 2.72 percent from 2.54 percent. Loans posted 44.4 percent growth, boosted by strong double-digit increases in small and medium-sized enterprises and mortgage sectors. Deposits were up by 19.9 percent while depos were down by 13.5 percent, the result of the government’s reimposition of a tax on the product this year. Net commission revenues declined by 5.9 percent as the sluggish stock market continued to hamper investment banking activities, which was offset by a 31.3 percent rise in revenues from commercial banking. Piraeus said the integration of ETBA Bank into the group hampered cost-containment efforts, with costs down by just 4 percent. Excluding costs related to the acquisition, expenses would have fallen by 12.6 percent. It also increased provisions for non-performing loans by 16.2 percent to 41.5 million euros. The consolidated results included that of ETBA, in which Piraeus acquired a majority stake in March this year.