French bank Societe Generale enjoyed the benefits of a sharp increase in its retail banking business and what its chief saw as a "moderate" improvement in economies as it recorded a 27 percent increase in third-quarter group net profit to 1.126 billion euros ($1.2 billion).
Chief executive Frédéric Oudéa told CNBC that the figures were "solid results, in particular growth of revenues, good performance of retail, good monitoring of cost and low cost of risk. Hence a net profit which is progressing, capital ratio also, so really in line with what we want to achieve."
SocGen's retail banking business saw a sharp increase in the third quarter as the French lender saw good potential in euro zone economies. Oudéa was still cautious, however, telling CNBC there was moderate progress.
"We think that the economies are moving forwards progressively – moderately, but definitely – and we expect this to be case of 2016. It's true for France, in particular," he said.
"But beyond this general environment, we collect the benefits of the hard work to put the right business models (in place). When I look at our number of new clients it is at a historically high level, we conquer clients with business models such as the new private banking one which is very effective," he said.
Oudea said he was "very happy" with the French retail banking revenues and performance and said it reflected the dynamic of the bank's business.
Oudea said the third quarter had been a "milestone" for the bank in which it had decided to "accelerate the restructuring of its traditional networks" with a three-pronged strategy.
Firstly, this entailed the restructuring (closure) of around 20 percent of the bank's branches, Oudea said, which would take place "mainly in the cities where we think the density of the branches can decrease."
"Secondly, (the restructuring means) significant investment in new apps and the digitization of our services with something like 1.5 billion euros of new investments in that field. And third, to accompany these changes, it means a lot of changes for our staff…Job reduction will be a part of that, we are communicating with our trade unions."
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