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ABN Amro considers share buyback after surprise Q3 profit jump


FILE PHOTO: ABN AMRO logo is seen at the headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

By Bart H. Meijer

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – ABN Amro said on Wednesday it was looking to buy back its shares, as the Dutch bank reported an unexpected 14% increase in third-quarter net profit helped by economic recovery and the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Developments in the third quarter were encouraging,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Swaak said.

“Demand for lending showed signs of recovery and both our mortgage book and corporate loan book grew.”

Credit demand was helped by the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands, as bars, restaurants and stores were gradually allowed to reopen in recent months.

Interest income dropped 18% in the three months to Sept. 30, as low rates continued to bite the interest margin, but the drop was less dramatic than analysts had feared.

This pushed up ABN’s net profit to 343 million euros ($396 million), while analysts in a company-compiled poll had predicted it to fall on average to 147 million euros, from 301 million a year ago.

The largely state-owned lender resumed dividend payments last month and said it was now in a “constructive dialogue” with the Dutch central bank about the possibility to start buying back shares after the first quarter of next year.

ABN, one of the three dominant banks in the Netherlands, was re-privatised six years ago after its bailout in the 2008 financial crisis, but the Dutch state still owns 56% of the shares and hasn’t sold any since September 2017.

($1=0.8655 euros)

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