February 10, 2017 / 10:11 AM / a year ago

MONETA CEO Spurny says aims for higher lending growth this year

PRAGUE, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Czech lender MONETA Money Bank aims to accelerate lending growth this year as part of its plan to turn around declining profits, Chief Executive Tomas Spurny said on Friday.

The bank reported a 4.1 percent growth in lending last year, lagging some rivals such as Komercni Banka, which reported 8.6 percent loan book increase last year and said it saw a higher single digit growth this year.

“We do not give guidance, but we will try to significantly accelerate above the level we achieved in 2016,” Spurny told Reuters in a telephone interview after fourth-quarter results.

“We are motivating the bank to be consistent with the growth of the market as such.”

Spurny said the bank had turned a decline in mortgage portfolio and saw a further acceleration there. He said the 2016 figure was in part caused by write-off of non-performing loans.

He said in the longer term, the bank should benefit from a rise in household investment demand for durable goods and also cars, where the bank has strong market share.

Last year, net profit dropped 10 percent to 4.05 billion crowns and the bank forecasts profit of above 3.4 billion this year.

Spurny said the bank continued to see turnaround in declining profits during 2018, although it saw higher pressure on pricing than it had expected.

“2018 should be the turnaround year, we still need seven to eight quarters to get there,” he said, without giving specific guidance for full-year 2018 profit in comparison to 2017.

The bank proposed a higher-than-expected 9.8 crown dividend for 2016, enabled by a jump in capital adequacy achieved by cutting the loss loan portfolio and reclassification of some assets. The proposal sent the stock, floated through an initial offering last May, to all-time high of 90.75 crowns at midday. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Petra Vodstrcilova)

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