MILAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Italy's No.5 bank by assets UBI Banca said its net profit rose 22 percent in the first nine months of the year thanks to strong trading gains.
The lender said net profit came in at 223 million euros, compared with 182.7 million euros. Core Tier 1 ratio, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 9.35 percent compared with 9.2 percent at the end of June taking into account stricter requirements by the European Banking Authority.
The bank is cutting or downsizing more than 100 branches and shedding 1,500 jobs to cut costs, in line with other Italian lenders that have embarked on major restructuring plans in the face of the euro zone debt crisis and a deep recession on their home turf.
UBI, which has a market share of 6 percent in Italy, said its loan book had shrunk by 8 percent on an annual basis, due to weak demand and a reduction in its exposure towards large companies. It said its stock of bad loans stood at 7.8 billion euros at end-September, up from 6.3 billion euros at the end of last year.
In line with big Italian lenders, UBI took advantage of an easing of sovereign tensions to tap wholesale debt markets and reduce its dependence on funding form the European Central Bank, selling a 750-million-euro three-year bond last month, its first visit to the senior sector this year.
Reporting By Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Lisa Jucca