SocGen profits jump after cost cutting success

Tim Wallace
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FRENCH bank Societe Generale hiked its dividend payouts to shareholders yesterday after profits jumped in 2013.

The bank saw modest profit growth in its French retail arm, despite the wider economy’s poor performance, and it was bolstered by growth in markets like Russia.

Profits came in at €322m (£236.9m) for the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with a loss of €471m in the same period of 2012.

For the year as a whole the lender made €2.18bn, 2.8-times the €790m profit from 2012.

Although revenues slipped 1.2 per cent to €22.8bn, operating expenses slid 0.1 per cent to €16.4bn, and impairment losses on goodwill dropped 94 per cent to €50m.

As a result of the improvements the bank hopes to increase dividends to 40 per cent of income, compared with 27 per cent last year.

Return on equity in the year rose to 4.4 per cent, up from 1.2 per cent in the previous year. The bank aims to increase that to 10 per cent from the end of 2015.

It comes after the bank spent €220m to restructure parts of the business, a scheme which it said should save €350m per year.

Analysts praised the bank’s capital generation, with the core equity tier one ratio rising 10 basis points to 10 per cent.

The bank’s shares rose 5.09 per cent on the day.