“The performance of BRD-Groupe Societe Generale in the first quarter reflects the poor economic activity and the sharp decline in banking products and services demand”, the bank said in its report.

The net banking income rose 12% in Jan-Mar period, to 915 million lei (€224 million), while gross operating profit jumped 24% from the same period of last year, to 570 million lei (€139 million), according to Romanian accounting standards.

“The economy failed to pick up speed in the first quarter 2010, and our performance has been pretty affected accordingly, mainly by the low demand. However, we managed to keep a close oversight on spending, while the net cost of risk stabilized, with a narrow advance from end-2009”, said Guy Poupet (photo), chairman and chief executive of BRD - Groupe Societe Generale.

The net cost of risk came in at 324 million lei (€79 million), from 201 million lei (€47 million) in the first quarter 2009, and up moderately from end-2009.

The bank’s general expenditures dropped 3% from the same period of last year, “which contributed to a mild improvement in the operating ratio (37.7%, down 6% from March 2007).

Return on equity stood at 17.2% at the end of first quarter.

The bank’s assets totaled 45.7 billion lei (€11.1 billion) at the end of March 2010, 1.4% down from year-ago period.

BRD’s loan book totaled 32.8 billion lei (€8 billion), 1% below year-ago level. Retail loans amounted to 15.7 billion lei, down 2%, while corporate loans’ value remained relatively constant (17.1 billion lei ).

Customers’ deposits totaled 30.7 billion lei in the first quarter, up 4% from the same period of last year.