October 29, 2019 / 6:39 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-Retail business, acquisitions lift Austrian lender BAWAG's profit

(Adds details on results, CEO comment, and share buyback programme)

VIENNA, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Austrian bank BAWAG Group reported a higher-than-expected increase in its third-quarter pre-tax profit on Tuesday, helped by acquisitions and retail partnerships.

The former trade union bank, which is backed by U.S. private equity group Cerberus, said profit before tax reached 164 million euros ($182 million) in the three months ended September, and net interest income was at 220 million euros.

Analysts on average had forecast third-quarter pre-tax profit to come in at 154 million euros and a net interest income of 224 million euros, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The lender with 2.5 million customers has been focusing on bolt-on takeovers and retail-partnerships that strengthen its consumer lending business in the German-speaking region to drive growth.

“While the market environment for European financials continues to be challenging, the fundamentals of the bank remain strong,” said Chief Executive Anas Abuzaakouk. “We are on track to deliver on all of our targets in 2019 as we continue to adapt to the changing operating environment.”

The group expects to reach a pre-tax profit of more than 600 million euros this year, and of more than 640 million euros next year.

BAWAG launched a 400 million euro buyback programme last week, offering investors to purchase up to 10.9% of its shares for 36.84 euros per share. The offer period runs until Nov. 22.

$1 = 0.9014 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle, editing by Riham Alkousaa and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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