BCR 2011 Net Income Falls 85% on Bad-Loan Costs, Low Demand

Banca Comerciala Romana SA, Romania’s largest bank by assets, said its 2011 profit dropped 85 percent from a year earlier, citing growing bad-loan provisions amid faltering economic recovery.

Net income dropped to 71 million lei ($22 million) from 468 million lei a year earlier, the Bucharest-based bank, also known as BCR, said today in an e-mailed statement. Net-interest income, or the difference between money paid on deposits and earnings on loans, fell about 16 percent to 3.13 billion lei from 3.75 billion because of “low eligible loan demand.”

Romania’s banking industry, including BCR and its main rival BRD-Groupe Societe Generale SA, have been hit over the past two years by the European debt crisis, which forced the government to cut wages and spending and raise taxes. These actions eroded people’s income and reduced loan repayments.

Last year was difficult “as the economic recovery was slowing in the second half, beyond expectations,” BCR chief executive officer Dominic Bruynseels said in the statement. “This is affecting the business and income of our customers and therefore had a negative impact on their transactions with BCR.”

BCR’s bad-loan costs grew 7.9 percent in 2011 to 2.15 billion lei from about 2 billion lei a year earlier, according to the statement. Bad loans stood at 20.6 percent of total lending at the end of last year.

BCR, majority-owned by Erste Group Bank AG, posted net income of 2 million lei in the fourth quarter compared with a net loss of 90 million lei in the third quarter “mainly due to a decrease in quarter-on-quarter provisions,” it said.

The bank’s total assets grew 4.3 percent to 76.75 billion lei in 2011 from 73.6 billion lei at the end of 2010.

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