Credit Agricole announces dividend after swinging to profit

 
Harriet Green
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A better performance in its retail banking and a tax rebate helped Credit Agricole return to profit in the fourth quarter.

The French bank said it’ll propose to pay a dividend on its full-year results for the first time since 2010, having beaten its own solvency targets. The dividend will be €0.35 per share.

Net income rose to €612m (£505m) in the last three months of 2013. A year earlier, it had made a loss of almost €4bn - hit by a series of writedowns. Net income for the year stood at €2.5bn.

The bank had posted two years of losses, hit by pulling out of Greece and Italian-related provisions.

Business line revenues (taking into account one-off costs and exceptional items) grew 4.3 per cent in the fourth quarter year-on-year, to €3.2bn. This reflects, said CreditAg, “healthy business momentum”.

Chief executive Jean-Paul Chifflet commented:

Our results first and foremost reflect the robustness of our economic model. Prior to unveiling our medium-term plan on 20 March next, Crédit Agricole has shown that it is ready to move forward with confidence. It has reduced its risk profile and refocused on the businesses where it excels.

CreditAg has also improved its capital generation. Un January 2014, it has a fully loaded Basel 3 CET1 ratio of 8.3 per cent - up from 6.9 per cent seen at the end of the third quarter.

Chifflet told journalists that the lender thinks the French economic situation will get better over this year.

He also said revenue’s set to improve in the bank’s Italian subsidiary this year. In the final quarter, Cariparma reported a €20m net profit, compared to a loss of €10m a year earlier.

He added that the asset quality review by the European Central Bank - which’ll assess the bank’s balance sheet - isn’t a concern for the group, though it is, of course, “vigilant”.