November 14, 2017 / 7:11 AM / a year ago

Raiffeisen beats third-quarter profit forecasts as Eastern European markets brighten

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBIV.VI) beat third-quarter net profit expectations on Tuesday on improved eastern European markets and lower risk costs.

RBI, which operates across eastern Europe, reported a net profit of 322 million euros (286.8 million pounds) for the three months to Sept. 30.

That beat the 255 million euros forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll, and was up 39 percent from a year earlier. In March it completed a merger with former parent Raiffeisen Zentralbank to simplify the group’s structure and strengthen its capital base.

After years of consolidation and restructuring sparked by the global financial crisis and the tougher regulations that followed, the bank has been boosting its capital reserves and shedding bad loans.

Ranked third-last in a stress test of 51 major European lenders last year, nine places behind Austrian rival Erste Group (ERST.VI), RBI has said it is turning a corner and plans to pay out its first dividend in four years.

It did not mention its dividend plans on Tuesday but said its fully loaded common equity tier 1 ratio, a measure of capital strength, reached its medium-term target of 13 percent at the end of the quarter.

RBI also reiterated its outlook for the year, including a cost-income ratio of 50-55 percent, which it came close to in the third quarter with a figure of 55.6 percent.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Jason Neely

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