February 14, 2020 / 6:04 AM / 4 days ago

Credit Agricole fourth quarter net income rises sharply, beats estimates

A logo of Credit Agricole is seen outside a bank office in Bordeaux, France, July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA), France’s second-biggest listed bank, topped expectations for quarterly profit on Friday, boosted by stronger results at its investment bank.

Credit Agricole is the last to report annual results among French banks. BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) revised down or dropped their 2020 profitability targets due to a low interest environment.

“We look with optimism at 2020, in any case, we are in line with targets for 2022,” Chief Executive Philippe Brassac told journalists.

Net profit rose by 65% to 1.66 billion euros (£1.4 billion), above a forecast for 1.51 billion euros, according to a Reuters survey of four analysts. Revenue rose by 5.5% to 5.12 billion euros.

Underlying revenues from capital markets and investment banking jumped by 54.7%, driven by strength in bond underwriting as market conditions became more favourable compared to a weak fourth quarter a year ago.

Revenue at its French retail bank LCL rose by 1% to 851 million euros.

As retail business in France and Italy struggles in the face of low interest rates, Credit Agricole - which owns Amundi (AMUN.PA) - has bought up asset managers and custodians in other European countries over the past years to diversify returns.

Brassac told reporters, when making comments on the annual results, that the bank would not bid for Commerzbank’s (CBKG.DE) Polish arm, mBank (MBK.WA), nor for HSBC’s retail activities in France, that are currently on sale.

($1 = 0.9230 euros)

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Chris Reese

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