Piraeus Bank’s loss narrows as loan provisions decline

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Piraeus Bank is seen outside a branch in Athens

By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) -Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s four biggest lenders, reported a smaller loss in the third quarter than the previous three months, as expected, as provisions for bad loans decreased.

The bank reported a net loss from continued operations of 635 million euros ($721 million), down from 2.045 billion euros in the second quarter, as loan impairment provisions slumped to 811 million euros from 2.28 billion.

Analyst forecasts had ranged from a loss of 630 million euros to 800 million.

“Our NPE (non-performing exposures) reduction plan is well on track with more than 90% of actions already executed. NPE reduction in the first nine months of the year amounted to 16 billion euros, bringing our NPE ratio down to 16%,” Chief Executive Christos Megalou said.

He said the bank was getting closer to delivering a return on tangible equity above 5%, along with a single-digit NPE ratio “in the forthcoming period”.

Piraeus Bank’s stock of NPE exposures stood at 5.9 billion euros at the end of September, down from 22.5 billion euros at the end of 2020, and its NPE ratio improved to 16% from 23% at the end of June and 46% six months ago.

Impairments in the third quarter were associated with losses incurred from the bad loan securitisation of the “Sunrise 2” and leasing portfolio NPEs, which were classified as held-for-sale in the third quarter, the bank said.

Net interest income fell 22% from the second quarter to 319 million euros as the bank offloaded more bad loans but net fee and commission income rose 1% to 102 million on the back of its asset management, investment banking, funds transfer, bancassurance and cards businesses.

The bank said deposit costs remained supportive while the increase in performing loan balances, expected also with RRF (Recovery and Resiliency Facility) funds kicking in from next year, would generate additional loan interest income.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by David Clarke)

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