Serbia Best Bank: Intesa Beograd
A backdrop of buoyant economic growth, falling unemployment and rising consumer confidence gave Serbia’s banks a welcome boost last year.
Strong demand for credit from both retail and corporate customers boosted overall lending by more than 9%, while continued efforts on bad debt sales and workouts bought the sector NPL ratio below 5% by the end of December.
The market also remained a focus for M&A in the awards period. OTP also added another string to its Serbian bow with the completion in September of the acquisition of Societe Generale’s subsidiary, less than two years after the Hungarian group’s acquisition of Vojvodjanska Banka. Then in February, NLB Group agreed to buy number four player Komercijalna Banka from the Serbian government.
At the top of the sector, however, the story was one of stability. Market leader Banca Intesa Beograd turned in a strong financial performance backed by robust investment in technology, earning the Italian subsidiary the award for best bank.
A return on equity of 11.9% was 0.7 percentage points up on last year, boosted by an 11% expansion of the retail lending portfolio and record growth in housing loans. This was more than balanced by a 16.6%