Third win in row for Romania’s BCR in TOP 100 banks ranking

by Ina Ivanova

Romania’s Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR) emerged again as the best-performing lender in terms of assets in the TOP 100 banks ranking for 2012, retaining its number one position for a third consecutive year. Overall, 2012 saw no reshuffle in the top-five and all of them were successful in keeping the positions they had secured the previous year.

Only three banks in the top 10 experienced a decline in assets in 2012, including the leader BCR. On the earnings front all banks but three – BCR, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) at number three and BRD – Groupe Societe Generale (BRD) at number four – suffered losses in the period.

Around 35% of the banks that made it to the list exited 2012 with a higher profit, against 40% the previous year. The largest net profit in the TOP 100 banks ranking was 117.6 million euro, while the most substantial loss was 304.9 million euro.

The bank that secured the top spot in the league table, BCR, ended 2012 with total assets of 15.926 billion euro, down 4.54% on the year. The lender registered a hefty loss of 274.3 million euro after posting a profit of 56.7 million euro in 2011. Its owner, Austria’s Erste Group, put the disappointing result down to the adverse economic environment, the high provisioning requirements that prompted an increase in risk coverage costs and the rise in the unit’s non-performing loans coverage ratio to 58.6% as of end-December 2012 versus 50.1% at end-2011.

Croatia’s Zagrebacka Banka (ZABA) finished second again, exiting the year with 13.801 billion euro in assets. ZABA was also the lender with the highest net profit among the TOP 100 banks for a third year running, at 117.6 million euros. The result was, however, lower than the profit of 174.7 million euro seen in 2011. The Croatian unit of Italy’s UniCredit attributed the solid financial result to its efforts in improving cost and process efficiency and to its success in preserving its credit portfolio quality.

Third from the top in the ranking was NLB, Slovenia’s biggest lender. The bank had assets of 11.487 billion euro, down 11.5%, while its net loss widened to 304.9 million euro from 233.2 million euro in 2011. According to NLB, its 2012 performance was chiefly affected by the high volume of impairments and the gap in provisions on non-performing loans that hurt its bottom line. The bank had warned earlier its losses would most likely continue into 2013 because of the high and still rising number of bad loans since the economy collapsed in 2009.

Romanian bank BRD, the local arm of French banking group Societe Generale, retained its fourth place in the ranking with assets of 10.821 billion euro. Croatia’s Privredna Banka Zagreb completed the top five, reporting some 9.0 billion euro in assets for 2012.

The TOP 100 banks ranking saw 11 new sector players that mainly filled the bottom places of the chart. The one that made the most impressive entry was Serbia’s Banka Postanska Stedionica AD Beograd, which landed the 80th position.

Bulgarian banks dominated the ranking with 21 local lenders making the cut, leaving last year’s winner, Romania, third with 11 entries. Slovenia was the runner-up with 17 lenders in the chart, keeping the number of entries it had last year and moving one spot up in the ranking.

Serbia had 16 lenders in the chart, unchanged from 2011. Croatia was represented by 10 banks, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina with nine. Albania came next with seven entries, or two more than the previous year. Macedonia followed with four lenders against three a year earlier, while Moldova had three versus two in 2011. The number of Montenegro-based banks on the list remained flat at two.

The biggest winner in this year’s edition of the TOP 100 banks chart was the Bulgarian branch of Greek lender Alpha Bank, which climbed 37 positions up to the 35th spot. The bank managed to cut its loss to 9.9 million euro from 22.5 million euro a year earlier and its assets more than doubled to 1.89 billion euro in 2012. Two Romanian banks, Banca Comerciala Carpatica and OTP Bank Romania, scored the second-strongest progress in the ranking, each going 17 spots up to the 57th and 59th place, respectively.

There were several lenders that lost some positions in the ranking, but the declines recorded were not that steep. These were Slovenian lenders Abanka Vipa and Probanka, which both lost two spots and dipped to the 18th and 60th place, respectively. Croatian Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank filled the 13th place after be ing ranked 11th in 2011 and Serbian Raiffeisen Banka slid two places to the 42nd position.