SocGen feels pinch of low interest rates


French bank Societe Generale (Swiss: 519928.SW - news) said Friday that ultra-low interest rates and falling market activity hit its earnings in the third quarter.

France's third largest bank said in a statement that net profit declined by 15.2 percent to 932 million euros ($1.1 billion) in the period from July to September, far short of analysts' expectations.

Net (LSE: 0LN0.L - news) banking income, equivalent to revenues, slipped by 0.9 percent to 5.96 billion euros in the three-month period.

Nevertheless, Societe Generale insisted it was in fundamentally good shape.

"Despite an unfavourable financial environment, Societe Generale generated resilient third-quarter results, driven in particular by international retail banking and financial services," said chief executive, Frederic Oudea.

"With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) increased underlying profitability in the first nine months of the year, a solid capital base and the commitment of its teams, Societe Generale is ready to embark on a new phase of its development," Oudea said.

Societe Generale said that it had set aside additional provisions of 300 million euros in the third quarter to cover two legal disputes in the United States, notably a lawsuit with Libya's sovereign wealth fund LIA and allegations of manipulating the benchmark global interest rate known as LIBOR.

"Societe Generale is currently in discussions with the US authorities in order to resolve (the) two litigations... The discussions could result in an agreement in the coming weeks or months," it said.

On the Paris stock exchange on Friday, Societe Generale shares were showing a loss of 3.6 percent, while the overall market was down by a more modest 0.1 percent.