SocGen profit shoots up, cuts Russia exposure

Frederic Oudea

French bank Societe Generale reported a jump in fourth-quarter profit, but took a large write down on the value of its Russian unit as the country's economy continues to struggle.

SocGen's fourth-quarter net profit came in at 511 million euros ($578.09 million), up from 191 million a year earlier. For the full-year 2014, net profit was up 31.7 percent at 2.69 billion euros, while revenue rose 5 percent to 23.56 billion euros.

However, the bank took a 525 million euro writedown on the value of Rosbank, its Russian unit, and said it cut loans to its Russian activities by 600 million euros in 2014.

The bank's Chief Executive Frederic Oudea called for a "diplomatic solution" to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as peace talks continue in Minsk, Belarus.

"Russia is a's important to avoid a further deterioration in the situation," Oudea told CNBC.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko were locked in talks Thursday over military conflict in Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed local militia.

Oudea added that 2015 would likely be "the most difficult year" for the bank's Russian interests, as its economy battles with a low oil price and Western sanctions imposed following its activities in Ukraine.

He also called for a quick solution to the new Greek government's attempts to renegotiate its debts.

"The central scenario remains to find a solution which will avoid putting the taxpayer in Europe at risk and help Greece to lift growth prospects and make the debt more manageable," Oudea said. He added that a cut to the struggling Mediterranean country's headline debt seemed "difficult to entertain".

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