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MENAFN - AFP - 09/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) French bank Credit Agricole disappointed analysts with a net loss of 2.85 billion euros (3.6 billion) for the third quarter on Friday, far worse than expected owing mainly to the cost of withdrawing from its adventure into Greece via Emporiki bank.

The cost to the net outcome of selling Emporiki, which had become a deadweight around Credit Agricole, to Greece's Alpha Bank was 1.96 billion euros.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a net loss of about 1.76 billion euros.

The price of shares in the bank was showing a fall of 3.04 percent to 5.74 euros in mid-morning trading in an overall French market which was flat.

Credit Agricole is one of the biggest banks in Europe, and its quarterly statement was heavily marked by legacy problems from the financial and debt crises.

The results were also hit with a revaluation of its debt, reflecting an improvement in market values for debt, to the extent of 647 million euros and charges for depreciation of the value of loans to consumers amounting to 572 million euros.

Another negative non-recurrent item was the de-consolidation from the accounts of Spanish bank Bankinter.

The holding of Credit Agricole in this bank was reduced to less than 20 percent in August, and the consequent change in accounting methods reduced the net figure by 193 million euros.

The cost of disposing of its broking arm Cheuvreux was 181 million euros. The bank has entered into exclusive talks with broker Kepler for the sale of this business.

Credit Agricole said that before allowing for these one-off items, net profit for the quarter was 716 million euros, reflecting what it said was a "satisfactory" operating performance.

Net banking income, a key indicator for a bank measuring the difference between the cost of taking in funds and the price of lending them out, fell by 31.9 percent to 3.43 billion euros, but the bank noted that the revaluation of debts had reduced this by 1.0 billion euros.

Gross operating profit fell by 80.3 percent, but excluding exceptional items the setback was 8.2 percent.

Credit Agricole has its roots in a collection of regional banks and savings bodies to support activity in rural areas. It has a complex structure, and the results for the bigger overall group showed a net loss of 2.21 billion euros, although its regional savings banks turned in a net profit of 853 million euros.

The main bank's core capital relative to risks underwritten amounted to 9.3 percent at the end of September, and for the group as a whole the ratio was 11.3 percent.

The group is aiming to end 2013 with a ratio of more than 10.0 percent, under new so-called Basel III rules which take effect fully at the end of 2018.

The bank said that it had more than achieved its targets under a programme to adapt activities to conditions since the financial crisis, reducing its need for finance by 59 billion euros compared with a target announced in December 2011 of 50 billion euros.


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