November 30, 2018 / 4:24 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Greece's Piraeus Bank reports stronger profit in Q3

(Adds CEO comment, details)

By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Greece’s largest lender Piraeus Bank on Friday reported a stronger profit for the July-to-September period compared to the second quarter, helped by higher commission income and lower operating costs.

Piraeus Bank, which is 26.2 percent owned by the country’s HFSF bank rescue fund, reported net profit from continued operations of 94 million euros ($106.53 million) against net earnings of 24 million euros in the second quarter.

Greek banks, including Piraeus, remain focused on reducing their bad debt portfolios and meeting targets on so-called non-performing exposures (NPEs) agreed with the European Central Bank’s Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) regulators.

“We feel confident that we can deliver the commitments of our new NPE operational targets plan which calls for a 14 billion euros reduction in NPEs to 13 billion by the end of 2021,” CEO Christos Megalou said in a statement.

Piraeus grew fee and commission income by 74 percent from the second quarter, while squeezing operating costs by 6 percent to 249 million euros.

Provisions for impaired loans were flat quarter on quarter at 149 million euros.

Piraeus said it had shrunk its load of sour loans, the so-called non-performing exposures (NPEs) by 5.2 billion euros in the last 12 months, bringing its stock down to 28.5 billion euros at the end of September.

Year to date, the reduction of NPEs totalled 4.3 billion euros. The bank completed the disposal of 2 NPE portfolios of 1.8 billion euros gross book value, comprising secured business loans and unsecured consumer loans.

It already has in the pipeline two new NPE sales projects with a gross book value of 1.7 billion euros. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Karolina Tagaris and David Evans)

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