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Economy

Fewer Bad Loans, Higher Rates Boost Greece’s Biggest Banks

ATHENS – Greece’s two largest lending and financial institutions, Eurobank and The National Bank of Greece showed profits in the first nine months of 2022 off a drop in bad loans and higher interest rates.

Eurobank, number one by market value, reported net earnings of 1.106 billion euros ($1.124 billion) up from 216 million euros ($222.03 million) and net profit included gains of 231 million euros ($237.44 million from the spin-off of its merchant acquiring business, said Reuters.

The banks are also benefiting from Greece’s accelerating recovery during the waning COVID-19 pandemic with estimates that growth could hit 6 percent this year before falling back to 1 percent in 2023.

Eurobank’s Chief Executive Fokion Karavias told the news site that the bank’s performance exceeded guidance across all lines, with international activities a “steady contributor,” increasing profit by almost 40 percent.

Improvements in the economy and lower problem loans prompted ratings agency Moody’s to upgrade Greek banks, Eurobank growing net interest income by 8.1 percent year-on-year in the nine months to 1.1 billion euros, ($1.13 billion) driven by bond income, lending and its international business.

The bank’s non-performing loan exposure (NPE) ratio fell to 5.6 percent at the end of September with the stock of bad loans decreasing to 2.4 billion euros ($2.47 billion) with soaring inflation leaving many unable to pay.

NBG, Greece’s second-largest by market value, reported lower net earnings in the first nine-months of 2022 compared to the same period a year earlier on the back of lower trading income.

NBG, 40 percent owned by the country’s HFSF bank rescue fund, said net earnings from continued operations reached 652 million euros ($670.17 million) from 732 million euros ($752.4 million) in the nine months.

CEO Paul Mylonas said tourism was helping to drive economic growth and revenues were on track to reach a new all-time high while private sector profitability was buffering inflation.

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