SARAJEVO Slovenia's largest bank Nova Ljubljanska Banka's (NLB) group net profit rose 56 percent to 81.6 million euros ($89.16 million) in January-March compared with the same period last year, helped by strong growth in some of its subsidiaries.
The state-owned bank, half of which is slated for privatization this year, also said bad loans fell to 12.7 percent of all loans, down from 13.8 percent at the end of 2016.
"Profitability of subsidiary banks improved and reached historically high levels," the bank said, adding that the first quarter of 2017 was also marked by a healthy pick-up in retail loan demand in Slovenia.
The European Commission approved Slovenia's proposal to sell 50 percent of NLB this year rather than 75 percent as previously planned, while another 25 percent will be sold by the end of 2018, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday. [L8N1ID5X4]
Total assets rose to 12.1 billion euros in January to March from 11.9 billion euros a year earlier, the bank said.
On Friday, Standard and Poor's rating agency upgraded NLB's long-term rating to "BB" from "BB-" with a stable outlook on robust domestic growth, a rapid fall of bad loans and strengthened creditworthiness, fostering improvements in its earnings generation capacity and supporting further NLB transformation.
(Reporting by Maja Zuvela; editing by Susan Thomas)