(Adds details of results, CEO quote from statement)
AMSTERDAM, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Dutch bank ABN Amro reported a surprise 11 percent rise in third-quarter net profit at 673 million euros ($780.3 million) on Wednesday, as its loan book grew while expenses fell.
Savings implemented over recent years helped drive down costs by 12 percent, offsetting a 4 percent drop in operating income. Also, the strong growth of the Dutch economy held defaults on loans at a very low level, the bank said.
“All major loan books showed continued growth ( and) the benefits of cost-saving programmes are coming through,” Chief Executive Kees van Dijkhuizen said in a statement.
Analysts polled by the bank had on average expected profit to fall to 592 million euros, from 607 million euros realised in the same period last year.
Since its bailout by the Dutch state in 2008, the Netherlands’ largest domestic lender has cut thousands of jobs and shut down branches as it focuses more on digital services.
This process will continue, Van Dijkhuizen said, leading to more job losses at the retail, private and commercial banking divisions. ABN Amro expects to set aside a restructuring provision of 50-100 million euros in the fourth quarter.
ABN Amro was re-privatised in 2015, but the Dutch state still owns 56 percent of its shares. ($1 = 0.8624 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)