BRD's 740 branches unsettle BCR's position as leader

Publish date: 14-11-2007
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With a better profitability/employee ratio and a higher profit, BRD-Groupe Societe Generale, Romania's second-largest lender in terms of assets, is seriously unsettling Banca Comerciala Romana's (BCR) market leader position in the banking sector.

The French group invested some €45 million in its network in 2007, which has affected its profit registered in this year's first nine months. Half-year results were the first sign of a possible change in the list of top Romanian lenders, when BRD-SocGen announced a profit higher than the entire BCR financial group.

BCR's total net profit in Q1 2007 amounted to €139.5 mln, while BRD obtained €133 mln only as a bank, due to a much more aggressive market strategy, which speculated BCR's efforts to integrate in the Erste group. BCR invested some €200 mln in its integration in the Erste group, while BRD-SocGen allocated lower amounts for investments that can be oriented in more efficient directions.

Estimates for the coming two years are favorable for the French company, which has 740 units, compared to BCR's 528.

The presidents of the two banks say they are not after each other's clients or market shares, although both admit that the battle for first place requires all possible weapons. "BRD's performance is net superior to that of its competitors, and we will try to maintain this leadership. However, BRD's objective is not to be the largest bank in ," Patrick Gelin, BRD's President and General Manager, told Business Standard. Andreas Treichl, Erste Bank's General Manager, said that "the French are and will be powerful competitors, but they are no threat to us."

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