ECONOMY

NBG Q3 profit falls 51.5 pct

The National Bank of Greece (NBG), the largest in terms of assets with a market capitalization of 3.6 billion euros, said yesterday nine-month group pretax profit after minorities fell 51.5 percent to 276.3 million euros, below market expectations. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 47 percent drop year-on-year. The bank said the decline was predominantly due to the steep plunge in trading income to 59.8 million euros from 301.1 million in the first nine months of 2001. NBG said that despite the negative market climate, group operating profitability during the period showed substantial improvement, with net interest income rising to 875.3 million euros from 840.3 million in the same period of 2001, confirming an upward trend from previous quarters. Net interest income in the third quarter was 11.5 percent higher year-on-year. The group’s net interest margin also improved from 238 basis points in the first half to 240 for the nine months. Net commission income was 0.6 billion euros lower year-on-year at 274.2 million – despite a 24.5 percent drop in commissions from capital market activities – thanks to a 15.4 percent jump in such income from retail banking. Core profitability sources came to account for 95.1 percent of total income, against 91.6 percent in the first half. NBG’s operating expenses were up only 2.4 percent to 227.4 million euros in relation to average levels in 2001and 2 percent lower than in the previous quarter. Total loans and corporate debt securities were higher 10.8 percent than a year earlier at 22.8 million euros, while non-performing loans represented 2.1 percent of the total portfolio, against 2.3 percent in the first half. Deposits jumped 10 percent year-on-year, despite the cut in savings rates in May.