Greece’s third-largest lender Eurobank raised its net profit in 2019 as provisions for impaired loans eased and said it would now be focusing on profitability.
Greek banks have been working to reduce a pile of about 75 billion euros in bad loans, a legacy of a financial crisis that shrank the country’s economy by a quarter.
Shedding this bad debt is crucial for the ability of the country’s banks to lend and shore up profits.
Eurobank, which is 2.4 percent owned by the country’s HFSF bank rescue fund, said on Thursday its net earnings were 127 million euros for the full year, up 36.2 percent from 93 million euros in 2018.
The bank, which has applied to participate in Greece’s bad loan reduction scheme through a 7.5-billion-euro securitization, said profitability is now its key priority.
“Having dealt with the burden of the NPE (nonperforming exposures) stock, we concentrate all our efforts into strengthening our business, financing solid projects, attracting new clients,” Eurobank chief executive Fokion Karavias said.
Credit loss provisions dropped 8.3 percent year-on-year to 624 million euros, while NPEs dropped to 29.2 percent of its loan book from 31.1 percent at the end of September.
“Our NPEs, already by far the lowest in Greece, should reach single digits in 2021 and further drop to 5 percent in 2022,” Karavias said.
Eurobank said it is targeting earnings per share of about 0.12 euros this year, from 0.07 in 2019. [Reuters]