(Adds CEO comment, details, background)
* Loss widens to 913 mln euros in Q4
* Bad debt provisions increase to 660 mln euros
* Non-performing loans at 29.4 pct of book vs 27.7 pct in Q3
ATHENS, Feb 28 Greece's third largest lender
Eurobank lost 1.15 billion euros last year, hurt by
provisions for bad loans and one-off charges including the cost
of a voluntary exit scheme.
Greek banks continue to struggle with loan impairments amid
a deep recession. Record unemployment of 28 percent has made it
hard for borrowers to service their loans, forcing banks to
provision for bad debt, although the pace of rise is slowing.
Non-performing loans (NPLs) are the focus of a health check
the country's central bank has run to assess whether Greece's
top lenders are adequately capitalised to absorb further credit
Eurobank, 95 percent owned by Greece's HFSF bank rescue
fund, said provisions rose to 660 million euros as impaired
loans increased to 29.4 percent of its book from 27.7 percent in
the previous three-month period.
The bank said it beefed up provisions to raise the coverage
ratio of its impaired loans by 130 basis points to 50.1 percent.
"We proceeded to further clean up and fortify our balance
sheet with a conservative provisioning policy," the bank's Chief
executive Christos Megalou said in a statement.
Based on central bank data, non-performing loans held by
Greek banks rose to 31.2 percent of their total loan book at the
end of the third quarter last year from 29.3 percent at the end
of the first half.
Eurobank, slated for a return to private ownership, said net
interest income rose by 16 percent to 361 million euros in the
fourth quarter, helped by lower funding costs as deposit rates
eased and exposure to costly Greek central bank liquidity
assistance (ELA) dropped to 5.6 billion euros.
The bank plans to issue about 2 billion euros ($2.71
billion) worth of new shares to boost its capital by March. It
became 95 percent-owned by the HFSF after it failed to attract
private investors in its recapitalisation last year.
It shed more than 10 percent of its workforce through a
voluntary redundancy scheme last year aimed at cutting costs and
making it fit for privatisation.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Elaine