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SocGen eyes bigger share in Russia, Romania

Societe Generale (SocGen) is gearing up to boost its presence in two of its core overseas retail banking markets, Russia and Romania, by the end of 2013.

The company’s chairman and chief executive Frederic Oudea was quoted by The Financial Times as saying that the bank had achieved 70% of its deleveraging strategy to reduce hazardous assets and increase capital.

He further stressed that there is "no particular reason" to speed up to attain tier one capital of between 9-9.5% under the new Basel III regulations, by the end of 2013.

Oudea told the newspaper, about the weakening performance of its international retail business, "For me, what will be key is that at the end of 2013 [we] show that our international retail is delivering growth and more profitability than today and that it’s an advantage versus more exposure to the eurozone."

The bank had planned to achieve optimum profit in Russia by concentrating on corporate activity, while vying with domestic rivals including Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank.

In Romania, Societe Generale owns the second largest bank of the country, which is likely to make it easier to further sharpen its penetration in the market, the French lender said.

Apart from Russia and Romania, the bank has also prepared to concentrate on fast-growing emerging markets including Eastern Europe, and some parts of Africa.

SocGen’s overseas banking operation has underperformed, providing only 20% of total revenues in the past two years, which represented only 13-14% of total profits.