Eurobank posts lower profit on higher provisions, costs

A man walks outside a Eurobank branch in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) - Eurobank, Greece's largest lender by market value, on Tuesday reported lower profit for the first nine months of the year, on higher bad loan provisions and operating expenses.

Net earnings came in at 980 million euros ($1.05 billion) in the January-to-September period, an annual drop of 11.4%.

Provisions for non-performing loans stood at 90 million euros in the third quarter, up from 73 million euros in the same quarter last year.

Greek banks cut their bad loan ratios to below 8% in the first half of 2023 from 45% in 2016, but the ratio is still higher than their peers in the euro zone, the legacy of a decade-long financial crisis.

Eurobank's non-performing loan exposure ratio (NPE) fell to 4.9% of its total loan portfolio from 5.6% at the end of September last year.

The bank last month was the first from Greek lenders to end state participation in its share capital by repurchasing a 1.4% stake from state-controlled bank bailout fund HFSF.

"The completion of the 1.4% share buy-back this year will be followed by a cash dividend payment out of 2023 financial results next year," Chief Executive Officer Fokion Karavias said in a statement.

Greek lenders have returned to profit in the last few years and hope to resume paying dividends in 2024, for the first time since the Greek debt crisis erupted in 2010.

($1 = 0.9362 euros)

(Reporting by Athens Newsroom; editing by David Evans)