Raiffeisen Bank Romania, one of the country’s biggest lenders, posted a net gain of €74 million in a year that saw a market-wide increase in loan impairment charges and a steep downturn in the banking system.

In 2008, the bank had reported a net profit of €165 million, from €94 million in 2007.

“I believe we achieved a pretty good result, given the challenging economic climate. The decline reflects the sharp increase in bad loans provisions that almost doubled in 2009, but we managed to offset it by a healthy cost management and achieved a 7.4% cut in expenses”, said Steven van Groningen, chairman of Raiffeisen Bank Romania.

However, the bank’s cost-containment strategy didn’t involve the shutdown of outlets, as 6 new units were added to the existent 553-units network in 2009.

Raiffeisen Bank’s total assets increased to €4.692 billion, as the bank outsourced loans worth €1.5 billion.