Societe Generale profits beat estimates as rebound in global markets drives growth

SocGen wants to invest despite cost containment strategy

Societe Generale third-quarter results beat expectations on Thursday after the company reported a 32 percent jump in its net income from last year.

The bank's net income stood at 1.2 billion euros in the third quarter of 2018, beating analysts expectation of 955 million euros for the quarter, according to data firm Refinitiv.

The French bank reported a net income of 932 million euros in the third quarter of 2017.

Here are some of the key highlights of the latest quarter:

  • Net banking revenue stood at 6.5 billion euros versus 5.9 billion a year ago
  • Operating expenses rose to 4.3 billion euros from 4 billion a year ago
  • Common Equity Tier 1 ratio at 11.2 percent versus 11.4 percent at the end of 2017

"Our revenues increased due to the confirmed growth in International Retail Banking & Financial Services and the healthy momentum in Financing & Advisory and market activities," Fréderic Oudéa, the Group's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

We are among the most robust banks, says Societe Generale CEO

International retail banking achieved a reported group net income of 532 million euros in the third quarter from 493 million a year ago. Strong economic momentum across Europe, Russia and in its Africa subsidiaries supported this growth.

"The Group pursued its disciplined approach to cost management and the low cost of risk confirms the quality of our loan portfolio. The Group put an end this quarter to the financial impact of the major litigation issues with the U.S. authorities relating to the pre-financial crisis period," Oudéa added.

Optimizing capital allocation

Looking forward, the French bank has said it plans to allocate its capital in a more efficient way.

Earlier this week, the lender sold its Poland-based unit, Euro Bank, to Bank Millennium and the transaction is expected to "take place in the next few months."

Oudéa told CNBC that the decision to sell Euro Bank was part of bank's 2017 strategy.

"At the end of 2017, we said to our shareholders we will optimize the capital allocation and we have a plan to dispose assets, which are good assets but where we think that in the long term the level of synergies of the positioning does not justify us to keep these assets and there's a better usage of the capital," Oudéa told CNBC's Joummana Bercetche.

"We are just implementing this plan and we are selling effectively good but relatively small retail banking business, which do not have the opportunity to be in the top three or top four in the long term and facing all the challenges of digital transformation investments," the CEO explained.

He also said that the money of Euro Bank's disposal will be used to "finance very limited acquisition, like the one we made for Commerz(bank)...and of course increase our capital base."

"It is a very rational process," he said.

In July, Societe Generale announced the acquisition of the equity markets and commodities activities of Commerzbank.

Societe Generale SA headquarters stand in Paris, France
Antoine Antoniol | Bloomberg | Getty Images