* Q4 net loss 47 million euros
* Loan impairments rise to 555 million
* Says impairments expected to remain high in 2014
(Adds quote, details)
By Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM, Feb 21 Dutch state-owned bank ABN
AMRO, which is being readied for an eventual stock
market flotation, fell to a loss in the fourth quarter and said
loan impairments were likely to remain high this year.
The bank reported a net loss of 47 million euros ($64.5
million), hit by an annual bank tax of 106 million euros and
higher loan impairments of 555 million reflecting the weak state
of the domestic economy.
ABN AMRO, which had to be rescued in the 2008 crisis, has
been slowly restructuring in the run-up to its planned sale,
reporting a net profit of 390 million euros in the third quarter
and a full-year profit of 1.16 billion.
It said 2013 marked the bottom of the economic cycle and saw
glimmers of recovery - house prices have stabilised, mortgage
applications have picked up, confidence has improved and
economic growth is expected to resume this year.
"However, even if the economy does turn the corner,
impairments are expected to remain elevated in 2014," Gerrit
Zalm, chief executive, said in a statement, citing the bank's
high exposure to the Dutch economy, where domestic spending has
declined since 2008.
"Small and medium-sized enterprises with a domestic focus
have felt the effects of lower domestic spending and the number
of businesses in our portfolio that are suffering from financial
difficulties was at elevated levels," Zalm added.
The Dutch economy lagged others in the euro zone in emerging
from recession and signs of recovery are mixed.
Fourth-quarter GDP growth was stronger than expected thanks
to a pick-up in investment, but unemployment shows no sign of
decline. The housing market is expected to stabilise this year
after prices fell about a fifth from their peak levels in 2008.
The government said in August it planned to sell ABN AMRO in
a year's time at the earliest but was unlikely to recoup its
costs. It put the value of the bank at about 15 billion euros,
well below what the Netherlands poured into the bank's 2008
rescue and later support.
(Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Andrew Heavens and David