SocGen posts near doubling of earnings

FRENCH bank Societe Generale (SocGen) has more than doubled its profits thanks to a good investment banking performance, although the numbers failed to hit market hopes, sparking takeover talk.<br /><br />SocGen posted a 133 per cent rise in net profit to &euro;426m (&pound;381m) from &euro;183m a year earlier, mainly due to the fact that the bank&rsquo;s investment banking arm swung to a profit from a loss a year earlier.<br /><br />The banking group&rsquo;s revenues took a hit at its international arm, affected by the Russian economic slowdown and its investment management arm, due to outflows, but the domestic French retail banking business performed robustly.<br /><br />&ldquo;Societe Generale confirms the sales momentum of its businesses in and outside France,&rdquo; the bank said.<br /><br />The results triggered fresh speculation that SocGen could become a takeover or merger target for one of its French peers, including BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole. <br /><br />However, Didier Valet, the chief financial officer, said the bank was eyeing a number of acquisition opportunities of its own, particularly in central Europe.<br /><br />France&rsquo;s second-biggest and the eurozone&rsquo;s number six bank by market value has been steadily recovering since a &euro;4.9bn trading loss in January 2008, which it blamed on unauthorised deals carried out by Jerome Kerviel, a former junior trader at the bank.