BEIRUT: SGBL, one of the leading banks in Lebanon, recorded a net profit of $59 million in the first six months of 2012, registering an increase of 29 percent compared to the previous year. This trend is likely to continue till the end of this year, SGBL Deputy General Manager Georges Saghbini said Tuesday.
“The acquisition of the Lebanese-Canadian Bank’s assets and liabilities has helped us achieve these results, and we project profits to record an increase of 30 percent or more at the end of this year” Saghbini told The Daily Star.
The bank said the total assets up to June rose by 64 percent to $10.9 billion, while customer deposits jumped by 84 percent to more than $8 billion.
“Following the acquisition of part of the assets and liabilities of the bank [last quarter of 2011] SGBL was restructured so as to get closer to the customer through a 68 branch network across the country, organized around 10 regional decision centers, and optimize efficiency by re-engineering the banks’ processes and decision circuits,” the deputy general manager explained.
Saghbini stressed that SGBL is expected to maintain the same growth trend in the second semester of 2012 and through 2013, despite weaker economic momentum in Lebanon as well as in the region.
“We are focusing on greater income generation from our domestic and foreign subsidiaries, and we intend to continue monitoring very closely our risks and the quality of our assets,” Saghbini said.
Saghbini said that the Lebanese-Canadian Bank, whose assets and liabilities have been acquired, focused on corporate banking while SGBL emphasized both corporate and retail banking. He added that his bank intends to strengthen the retail side since it has wide experience in this field.
He assured that SGBL is keen on buttressingits position as a major player in the domestic market and maintaining sound fundamentals.
Saghbini said that the Lebanese market is still very promising, adding that SGBL plans to keep launching new products in the market.
The banker said that SGBL has no presence in Syria and this has helped the bank to remain immune to any negative effects in the region.
“Apart from Lebanon, we have a presence in Cyprus and Jordan. For the time being we have no plans to expand our operations outside Lebanon.”
He added that it is natural for the Societe Generale Group to operate in the Levant countries.
“We continue to support the economies of those countries [Cyprus and Jordan] we operate in and we are keen to remain in line with local regulations. We recently have injected fresh money into both these subsidiaries in order to remain compliant with the new regulations,” he said.
The Central Bank has raised the Basel III capital adequacy ratio from 8 percent to 11.5 percent. They have injected 20 million euros ($24.4 million) in Societe Generale Bank Cyprus (SGBC), raising its Basel III ratio to 13.8 percent.
The Central Bank of Jordan has raised minimum capital requirements from 50 ($70.5 million) to 100 million dinars ($141 million). Consequently, Societe Generale de Banque Jordanie (SGBJ) has recently raised its capital from 50 to 100 million Jordanian dinars.
Saghbini also commented on the performance of the Lebanese economy and government’s efforts to address economic problems.
“We are satisfied with the fact that the government has revised the 2012 budget proposal, setting aside additional tax measures [both economically irrational tax hikes and non-efficient new expenditures] that would have, in our opinion, weighed very heavily on economic growth and would have actually contributed to slow down the economy even further,” he said.