March 31, 2020 / 3:25 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Greek National Bank's profit hit by bad loan provisions, weak trading income

(Adds CEO comment, details)

ATHENS, March 31 (Reuters) - Greece’s National Bank (NBG) reported sharply lower net profit in the fourth quarter compared to July-to-September on the back of weaker trading and net interest income and higher provisions for impaired loans.

NBG, Greece’s second-largest bank by assets and 40% owned by the country’s bank rescue fund, said net profit from continued operations reached 18 million euros ($19.74 million) versus a net profit of 210 million euros in the third quarter.

“At present, visibility as regards the future is extremely limited,” Chief Executive Paul Mylonas said in a statement.

“NBG will ... do everything it can possibly do to implement efficiently the new policies and solutions approved by national and European authorities to ease the impact from the unprecedented shutdown of large swathes of the economy.”

Greece’s economy is expected to contract by 1% to 3% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus, the country’s finance minister said earlier this week.

Banks in Greece have been working to reduce a pile of about 75 billion euros in bad loans, the legacy of a decade-long financial crisis that shrank the country’s economy by a quarter.

NBG said its ratio of non-performing exposures, which includes non-performing loans and other credit likely to turn bad, fell to 31.3% from 33.5% in September.

Trading income fell to 4.0 million euros in the fourth quarter from 129 million in the previous quarter when the bank booked sizable gains from the sale of sovereign bonds amounting to 126 million euros.

Mylonas said the group would be ready to launch a large securitisation of more than 6.0 billion euros of non-performing exposures “as soon as market conditions permit.” ($1 = 0.9120 euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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