French bank posts record profits

Societe Generale has announced that net profit for the year to December 2005 soared to a record €4.44 billion, ahead of analysts' expectations.

Profits for the fourth quarter of the year were up by 42 per cent, with net income rising from €797 million in 2004 to €1.13 billion (£773 billion).

The French bank cited strong economic conditions and low interest rates across Europe and the US as reasons for its impressive 2005 performance.

Societe Generale witnessed strong growth in corporate and investment banking, and consumer lending last year, both in France and overseas.

The third largest lender in France said in a statement that it plans to invest capital to boost growth in 2006 and increased its dividend by 36 per cent to four euros 50 cents a share.

Societe Generale has spent over six billion in the past six years on acquisitions and is starting to see its overseas operations pay dividends. The Paris-based bank has watched its share price rise over the past year by more than 40 per cent.

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