UPDATE 1-SocGen asset losses cloud trading rebound

Thu Nov 8, 2012 1:39am EST

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By Lionel Laurent and Matthias Blamont

PARIS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France's No. 2 listed bank, failed to offset the cost of exiting Greece and selling assets in the third quarter with a rebound in trading revenue, leading to an 86 percent slump in net profit.

SocGen, seen as less well capitalised than domestic rival BNP Paribas, booked losses on the sale of Greek unit Geniki and U.S. fund-management unit TCW as part of a drive to slim down its balance sheet and boost capital levels ahead of tougher regulations and as the global economy slows.

While SocGen's investment bank followed rivals like BNP, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup in posting a strong rebound in fixed-income revenue - up threefold year-on-year - SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea warned the outlook for 2013 was murky and confidence might fray.

"Economic growth should remain sluggish overall (in 2013), with a key uncertainty in the U.S. - the fiscal cliff - in the beginning of the year," Oudea said in an interview with Reuters Insider television, referring to the threat of expiring tax cuts and government expenditure.

"In the euro zone, we can't expect miracles."

Quarterly net profit fell to 85 million euros ($108.4 million) from 622 million a year earlier. The mean forecast in a Reuters poll of seven analysts was 139.1 million euros.

Revenue fell 17 percent to 5.4 billion euros, compared with a mean forecast of 5.5 billion in the poll.

Excluding one-off losses and asset-sale costs, only SocGen's French retail network posted a profit decline at the divisional level. Rivals including BNP have started to see a slowdown as the French economy stagnates.

The bank followed BNP in saying that its year-long effort to cut its investment bank down to size was over. It is, however, not expecting to reach BNP's current levels of solvency under tougher Basel III rules before the end of 2013.

The CEO said talks were ongoing to potentially sell Egyptian unit NSGB to Qatar National Bank. He also said SocGen had yet to receive any charge or allegation in the Libor rate-fixing scandal and said there was nothing new to say about the bank's internal inquiry into the matter. ($1 = 0.7840 euros) (Editing by James Regan)

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