SocGen sacrifices dividend to cut down capital-raising needs

SOCIÉTÉ Générale has scrapped its 2011 dividend to bring its capital hole down by €1.2bn (£1.03bn), it announced in its third-quarter results yesterday.

The French lender brought its capital-raising requirement down to €2.1bn, in part by ditching the pay-out. It must find the cash by the middle of next year under Europe’s bank recapitalisation scheme.

The bank also took a €333m hit on Greek debt holdings, which it has written down from a 21 per cent to a 60 per cent haircut – harsher than the 50 per cent agreed by Eurozone leaders.

The bank also dumped €10bn in assets between July and November.

However, the size of its balance sheet increased to €1.25 trillion, a jump of 10 per cent year-to-date that was largely driven by an increase in the overall value of its assets.

Chief executive Frédéric Oudéa said that the priority above all was to get the bank’s capital and liquidity base in order. To that end, SocGen reduced its liquidity requirements by €40bn, particularly focusing on cutting down its dollar funding needs, an issue that has spooked investors recently.

Overall, the bank’s quarterly operating profit was €1.34bn, down five per cent on the same period last year, with its investment bank hit by slowing activity. The division’s revenues dropped by 36.8 per cent to €1.25bn.