Profit at Norway's Biggest Bank Jumps as Oil Crisis Fades

(Bloomberg) -- DNB ASA’s profit jumped 24 percent in first quarter as a recovering economy boosted lending and Norway’s biggest bank reversed some losses it had taken in the oil industry.

Net income rose to 5.65 billion kroner ($709 million), beating analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net interest income gained 5.7 percent, while impairments were reversed.

“Optimism is back in the oil sector, and losses have been strongly reduced,” Chief Executive Officer Rune Bjerke said in a statement. “Consequently, Large Corporates and International shows the highest increase in profits among our business areas.”

Still, DNB has targeted growth in lending to private customers and smaller businesses this year as the Oslo-based bank pivots away from the oil industry and other large, cyclical industries to focus more on the retail market. As part of a capital-light strategy, the bank’s also targeted an increased share of the Nordic asset management market.

Bjerke said that lending to small and medium-sized enterprises has grown by more than 8 percent over the past year, demonstrating “strong optimism and a willingness to invest in the Norwegian business community."

In other numbers, commission and fee income rose to 2.12 billion kroner and the CET1 ratio was 16.6 percent.

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