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Societe Generale toasts third quarter net income jump

French bank Societe Generale has in recent months been embroiled in several probes and lawsuits
French bank Societe Generale has in recent months been embroiled in several probes and lawsuits AFP

Paris (AFP)

French banking giant Societe Generale pointed to strong revenue growth Thursday as it lifted its third quarter net profit by a third, outperforming analysts' expectations.

The group saw net profits rise 32.4 percent to 1.2 billion euros ($1.37 billion) from July to September, adding it had largely dealt with the impact of a slew of US fines notably relating to alleged violation of Iran sanctions.

Factset consensus analyst forecasts had been for third-quarter profits to come in at 896 million euros.

SocGen's banking income advanced 9.6 percent to 6.53 billion euros from 5.96 billion in the same period last year ahead of a forecast 6 billion.

Boosting the overall picture was a 271 million euros capital gain on an upgraded valuation of the bank's stake in securities transaction settlement firm Euroclear.

Societe Generale meanwhile said it had lifted provisions by 136 million euros to cover the cost of any settlements with US authorities on possible sanctions violations.

The group has in recent months been embroiled in several probes and lawsuits.

In September, the bank said it expected to pay 1.1 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in fines to settle a dispute with US authorities over allegations that it violated sanctions, particularly in Iran, but expected provisions to cover the cost.

In June, the US Justice Department announced the bank would pay the authorities there and in France $1.34 billion to settle allegations that it bribed officials in Libya and also manipulated the Libor interest rate benchmark.

The Libya allegations had already seen Societe Generale pay nearly a billion euros in penalties in 2017.

Welcoming "solid results", Chief Executive Frederic Oudea said that the revised provisions "put an end to the financial impact of the big disputes with the US authorities."

Total provisions amounted to 1.58 billion euros at the end of September.

Also Thursday, Societe Generale and Germany's Commerzbank announced a definitive accord for the French group to buy the latter's equity markets and commodities business (EMC), sealing a deal mooted in July.

The size of the agreement for Commerzbank's manufacturer, distributor and market maker of structured and flow products and asset management solutions, which authorities still must greenlight, was not revealed.

Societe Generale had said in July that the acquisition would be "transformational" for its activities in Germany.

The deal, which will see around 500 Commerzbank employees join SocGen, excludes the German group's cash equity brokerage and commodities hedging businesses.

Commerzbank, which has endured several years of disappointing results and earlier Thursday posted a 53 percent slump in quarterly net profits, hopes the deal with allow it to pare down fixed costs by at least 200 million euros by the end of 2020.

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