buyback@ (Updates with details from statement, background)
PARIS, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France's third-biggest bank, boosted its capital in the fourth quarter following asset sales and said on Thursday it would introduce a new shareholder remuneration policy in 2020 that could include share buybacks.
SocGen said in a statement that its profitability would improve in 2020. But it did not make a reference to a target of 9% to 10% return on tangible equity guidance (ROTE) it had set earlier for 2020. Its ROTE in 2019 stood at 6.2%.
The bank expects French retail revenue to be between 0% and 1% lower in 2020 than in 2019 when they declined by 1.5%, weighed by a low interest rate environment. "In 2020, the Group expects an increase in Group net income compared to 2019, with slight growth in revenues in the current environment and a reduction in the Group's operating expenses," the bank said in a statement.
SocGen's revenue rose 4.8% in the fourth quarter to 6.21 billion euros ($6.8 billion), while net income declined 4.6% to 654 million euros.
Its common equity tier one capital ratio - a key measure of financial health - rose to 12.7% at end-Dec from 12.5% at end-September.
SocGen said it will maintain a 50% dividend payout ratio for next year when shareholders would be remunerated in cash or "could include a share buyback component of up to 10%".
($1 = 0.9094 euros) (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Muralikumar Anantharaman)