The group’s total assets advanced 5.1 percent in the first half to 72.57 billion lei (17.25 billion euros) at the end of June, from 69.08 billion lei at the end of last year.

The increase in assets at the value in lei stood at close to 12 percent in June 30 2008, when they totaled 64.82 billion lei.

The net profit downturn was mainly caused by higher provision expenses and by a drop in revenues from commissions generated by a reduced consumption, the BCR release reads.

The BCR group posted a coverage rate with provisions and guarantees corresponding to non-performing loans of 126 percent at portfolio level.

Risk costs almost tripled year-on-year in the context of an advance in non-performing loans, to 783.1 million lei. On the balance sheet side, provisions for credits hiked in the first six months of 2009 by 8.5 percent, due to a worsened macroeconomic context, the BCR representatives say.

“The credit portfolio developed relatively well give the circumstances and non-performing loans remained at an acceptable level, representing only 6.2 percent of the total credit portfolio,” the group explained, adding that these non-performing loans were mostly affected by mortgage loans as well as by real-estate developers.

However, the group’s operating profit hiked 13.2 percent in the first semester on the similar period last year, to 1.364 billion lei (324.2 million euros).

Thus, operating revenues climbed by 9.5 percent from 2.057 billion lei to 2.253 billion lei, underpinned mostly by a 21 percent increase in net incomes from interest rates to 1.738 billion lei.

On the other hand, revenues from taxes and commissions dropped following a cut in the population’s consumption expenses.

Operating expenses hiked annually with 4.3 percent from 852.5 million lei (231.9 million euros) to 889.1 million lei (211.3 million euros) on June 30 2009.

However, personnel expenses dropped 5.5 percent to 504.3 million lei.

BCR had opened 64 new units in the first six months of the year compared to the similar period of 2008.

The cost/revenues ratio improved to 39.5 percent in the first six months, compared to 41.4 percent in the similar interval last year. The return o equity ratio (ROE) dropped to 18.8 percent according to estimates.

The solvency rates stand above the level imposed by the central lender BNR, of 8 percent.

The financial data presented are consolidated, un-audited and according to the international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

The exchange rates used for converting lei to euros are those provided by the European Central Bank.