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Slovenian Unicredit Branch Sees Pre-Tax Profit Halved

Ljubljana, 17 March (STA) - The Slovenian arm of Unicredit Group saw operating profit drop 12% in 2009 to EUR 26.8m while pre-tax profit was nearly halved over a year ago to EUR 11.25m. $We are pleased with the results...Most of the goals were achieved and some even surpassed,$ Unicredit Banka Slovenija boss France Arhar told the press on Wednesday.

Total assets rose 13% to EUR 3.27bn, making Unicredit Banka Slovenija the country's fourth biggest bank by assets.

But Arhar was quick to point out that the bank was market leader in derivatives trading, brokerage on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange and custody services.

Non-interest income rose 16% to EUR 25.4m and interest income dropped 14% to EUR 39m. The bank set aside EUR 15.6m in provisions for writedowns, up from 6.9m a year ago.

Loans to companies contracted 2.5% over the year before to EUR 1.18bn. Arhar said the bank instead focused on crediting the banking sector (+65%), the public sector (+67%) and households (+14%).

Arhar said there was still a lot of scope for growth in loans to households, as households have little debt compared to the rest of Europe.

The bank expects better results this year. "The first two months bring fresh optimism and better results," Arhar said.

Unicredit Banka Slovenija thus plans to reduce writedowns and significantly increase operating and pre-tax profit.

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