Societe Generale profits up 6.3%

The French bank Societe Generale has reported a growth of 6.3 per cent in fourth quarter profit on higher consumer lending and increased revenue at the corporate and investment bank.

Net profits for France's third largest bank rose to €1.18 billion ($1.54 billion) over the quarter, in comparison to profits of €1.11 billion the previous year.

Fourth-quarter revenue grew by 12 per cent to €5.67 billion, though such gains were partly offset by a 10 per cent rise in operating costs, specifically the bank's ongoing investment in organic growth.

Favorable market conditions were cited by the bank as being behind the lift in corporate and investment bank income throughout 2006.

The division posted 19 per cent revenue growth for the fourth quarter, to €1.69 billion, thereby increasing its contribution to he bank's net profit by 17 per cent to €585 million.

International retail banking and asset management also grew strongly in the fourth quarter, posting growth of 19 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, with both divisions being highlighted by the bank as its main growth drivers in the coming years.

French retail banking was the only division not to post such significant gains for Societe Generale.

Increased domestic competition capped revenue gains, with profits for the fourth quarter rising by only 2.6 per cent to €1.69 billion.

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