Romania’s BCR shines again in TOP 100 banks ranking

By Velizar Uzunov

All banks in the top 10 in the 2011 ranking except one – NLB at number three – saw their assets rise. Some 60% of the banks in the 2011 ranking increased their asset value.
In terms of net profit, 40% of banks registered an increase, compared to about 25% in 2010. Lenders, however, remain cautious in view of the ongoing crisis, which forces them to increase provisions and puts pressure on their balance sheets.

The highest net profit posted by a bank included in the SEE TOP 100 Banks 2011 ranking was 174.8 million euro, while the biggest loss was 282.2 million euro.

The leader in the ranking, BCR, had total assets of 17.1 billion euro at the end of last year, 5.63% up from 2010. The bank’s net profit, however, decreased by more than 66% to 56.7 million euro. BCR attributed the fall to lower net operating income and high provisioning in corporate lending as the generally difficult 2011 and especially the unexpected economic slowdown in the second half of the year affected the business and income of the bank’s customers and had a negative impact on their transactions with the bank.

Croatia’s Zagrebacka Banka (ZABA) ranked second in 2011, with total assets of 13.8 billion euro at the end of the year, replacing Slovenia’s NLB. For a second year running ZABA posted the highest net profit among the TOP 100 banks – 174.8 million euro, up from 173.5 million euro in 2010.

Zagrebacka said that its solid financial performance was largely due to increased income from lending to corporate clients and the public sector, along with improved cost and process efficiency.

NLB, Slovenia’s largest bank, dropped to the third position in the 2011 ranking from the second one in 2010 after leading the list in each of 2008 and 2009. The bank’s total assets fell 6.15% to 12.98 billion euro, while its net loss swelled to 233.2 million euro from 183.4 million euro in 2010.

According to NLB’s annual report, the higher bank’s net loss was due to the negative effects of the operations of subsidiaries, which do not form the strategic core of the NLB Group, as well as to higher loan provisioning. The bank attributed the fall in the value of its assets to the discontinuation of certain unprofitable activities and the withdrawal from certain markets.
Romanian bank BRD, a unit of French banking group Societe Generale, kept its fourth position with total assets of 11.3 billion euro. BRD had the fourth highest net profit in 2011 of 108.7 million euro, down from 232.5 million euro a year earlier.

Romania leads the TOP 100 banks ranking by the number of entries with 21, followed by Bulgaria with 18 and Slovenia with 17. In 2010, Romania gave away the first place to Bulgaria and Serbia due to the worsened economic conditions in the country but managed to regain the top position with seven new entries in 2011.

Serbia had 16 lenders in the 2011 ranking, down from 18 in 2010. Croatia and Bosnia have nine and seven, respectively. The number of Macedonian, Albanian and Moldovan representatives remained unchanged from the 2010 ranking, at three, five and two, respectively. Montenegro has two banks in the 2011 ranking, compared to three a year earlier.

Bulgaria’s Corporate Commercial Bank AD advanced the most in the 2011 ranking, jumping 11 places to the 35th spot. The lender’s assets grew 49.8% to 2.067 billion euro, while its net profit fell by some 18% to 31.2 million euro.

Just like in 2010, Bulgarian Development Bank was the second-best advancer in the 2011 ranking, this time with a jump of 10 places to the 68th place. Its assets rose by almost 40% to 956.3 million euro last year but its profit shrank to 3.2 million from 13.2 million euro in 2010. The bank is 99.97%-owned by the state.

Slovenia’s Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank d.d. was the biggest decliner, sliding 28 places in the ranking to the 37th position. Its assets fell some 10% while its net loss rose by 2.1% to 26.9 million euro. The bank said that the fall in assets was a result of the transfer of a portion of non-banking sector loans to an enterprise in the group while its loss was largely due to a 23% increase in loan impairments.

There were 241 active banks in SEE at the end of 2011, up from 238 a year earlier.