Eurobank's CEO sees gradual return to profit in 2015-paper

ATHENS Sat May 3, 2014 2:53pm EDT

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ATHENS May 3 (Reuters) - Greece's third-largest lender Eurobank will report losses again this year and gradually return to profit in 2015, its chief executive said in an interview with a Greek newspaper.

Eurobank, which lost 1.15 billion euros last year hurt by provisions for bad loans, became Greece's first bailed-out financial institution to return to private control after raising 2.86 billion euros from international investors.

"2014 will be a year of restructuring during which we will continue to show losses but at the same time set the foundations which will lead us to a gradual return to profitability in 2015, to a significant pick-up in 2016 and full growth from 2017," its CEO Christos Megalou told Kathimerini newspaper.

Growing confidence that crisis-hit Greece is turning the corner towards recovery, has helped its top banks tap markets via share and bond issues. But a six-year recession at home has made it hard for borrowers to service their loans.

Megalou said that in 2014, Eurobank would focus on the management of its non-performing loans and boost efforts to cut its operational costs in Greece and abroad. He added the bank plans to sell its insurance arm Eurolife ERB, and its stake -- 33.9 percent -- in Eurobank Properties.

Asked how the bank would react if an October EU stress test showed it will need extra capital, he said:

"I'm certain the results of the EU-wide stress test will be fully manageable." (Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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