August 9, 2017 / 6:17 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-ABN Amro second-quarter profit beats expectations

* Q2 underlying net 960 million euros vs f’cast 750 million

* Earnings helped by 200 mln gain on Asian disposal

* (Adds detail, background)

By Bart Meijer

AMSTERDAM, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Dutch bank ABN Amro reported on Wednesday a larger than expected 45 percent rise in second-quarter underlying net profit, helped by a growing loan book and lower costs.

Underlying net of 960 million euros ($1.1 billion) compares with an average forecast of 750 million by analysts polled by the bank, and with 662 million a year before.

“The underlying trend in the second quarter was generally positive and supported by continued growth of the Dutch economy”, Chief Executive Kees van Dijkhuizen said in a statement.

Earnings were helped by a 200 million euro gain on the sale of private banking activities in Asia, concluded in April. With nearly 50 percent of its loan book linked to the real estate market, however, ABN also benefited from the strong growth of the Dutch housing market.

Coupled with the improving health of its corporate clients, this helped the Netherlands’ largest domestic lender to release 96 million euros from earlier provisions for bad loans.

Since its bailout by the Dutch state in 2008, ABN has refocused its operations and orientation on the Dutch market, cutting thousands of jobs in the process.

In the first half of this year these measures helped to lower the ratio of costs to income to 57.4 percent, compared with 61.8 percent a year earlier.

ABN continues to hold high levels of capital while it awaits new rules from the Basel Committee of banking regulators on asset risk weightings, with its core capital adequacy ratio standing at 17.6 percent of risk-adjusted assets at the end of June, up from 17 percent at the end of 2016.

The bank said it will decide on its capital position in the first quarter of 2018 if regulators don’t reach an agreement on the new rules, known as Basel IV, this year.

ABN Amro was re-privatized in 2015 but the Dutch state still owns 63 percent of the shares. ($1 = 0.8519 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and David Holmes)

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