March 28, 2019 / 5:04 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Profits fall at Greek banks Alpha, NBG with focus on bad loan reduction

* NBG profit shrinks to 1.0 mln euros in Q4

* Alpha Bank swings to 0.4 mln euro loss in Q4 (Adds details, CEO comment)

By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS, March 28 (Reuters) - Greek lenders Alpha Bank and National Bank reported a sharp fall in profit in the last quarter of 2018 as they focused on reducing their piles of bad loans.

Alpha Bank, Greece’s fourth-largest lender by assets, reported a net loss from continuing operations of 0.4 million euros ($449,040.00) in the October to December period after a net profit of 41.1 million euros in the third quarter.

The lender, which is 11 percent owned by the country’s bank rescue fund HFSF, attributed the loss to weaker trading gains and higher credit-loss provisions.

Net profit from continued operations at National Bank (NBG), the country’s second largest lender, shrank to 1.0 million euros from 8 million in the third quarter as trading losses weighed on its bottom line.

Greek banks are working to reduce their bad debts and meet targets on so-called non-performing exposures (NPEs) agreed with European Central Bank regulators.

Alpha Bank CEO Vassilis Psaltis said in a statement that reducing NPEs — which include non-performing loans and other credit likely to turn bad — and delivering competitive services were the bank’s priority.

Alpha aims to reduce NPEs by 14.3 billion euros by 2021, he said.

The bank’s non-performing loans ratio dropped to 33.5 percent of its loan book from 34.1 percent at the end of September, while provisions for impaired credit rose to 669 million euros from 296 million euros in the third quarter.

NBG’s NPE ratio fell to 40.9 percent from 42.2 percent in the third quarter and the lender aims to squeeze it to below 15 percent by 2021.

CEO Paul Mylonas said in a statement that would mean an 11.5 billion euro reduction by the end of 2021, with 4.5 billion euros of that coming this year.

He described the new strategy for managing bad loans as front-loaded and more ambitions.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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