February 8, 2018 / 8:00 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Italian bank BPER eyes more ambitious bad loan reduction

(Adds details and CEO’s quotes from conference call)

MILAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Italy’s sixth-largest lender BPER Banca has raised its ambitions for reducing its bad loans after reporting its results on Thursday.

The bank will aim for a ratio of gross non-performing exposures (NPE) of 15 percent by year-end, after reporting 19.8 percent at the end of December, Chief Executive Alessandro Vandelli said in a post-results conference call.

The CEO added that the NPE ratio will be further cut, to “below 10 percent in three years”.

The lender said in a statement earlier on Thursday that an update on NPE targets would be included in the new business plan to be approved by the end of the summer.

It said the new goals will be “more ambitious” than those presented in November, when the bank saw bad debts make up 13.5 percent of total loans by 2020.

BPER added that its net interest income edged lower 3.9 percent to 1.12 billion euros in 2017. Net commission income rose 3.9 percent to 740.6 million euros.

The bank, which reported a net profit of 176.4 million euros for 2017, said it would pay a dividend of 11 euro cents a share, up from 6 euro cents in the previous year.

On Wednesday Banco BPM also stepped up its target for shedding bad debts, aiming to lower them to around 11.5 percent of its total loans by the end of 2020. (Reporting by Elisa Anzolin and Andrea Mandala; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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