UPDATE 1-National Bank's second quarter profit hit by lower trading gains

(Adds CEO comment, details)

ATHENS, Aug 6 (Reuters) – National Bank (NBG), one of Greece’s four largest lenders, on Thursday reported a big drop in second-quarter net profit compared with the first quarter on the back of lower trading, fee and commission income.

NBG, 40% owned by the country’s bank rescue fund HFSF, said net profit from continued operations reached 58 million euros ($68.59 million) versus a net profit of 407 million euros in the first quarter.

“COVID-19 continues to dictate the economy’s movements,” CEO Paul Mylonas said in a statement. “With the gradual opening up of the economy, with a lag in the important tourism sector, and increasing fiscal and liquidity stimuli, activity in specific sectors is showing clear signs of a recovery in June and July.”

National Bank said provisions for impaired loans fell 84% quarter-on-quarter to 76 million euros.

The group’s ratio of non-performing exposures (NPEs), which includes non-performing loans and other credit likely to turn bad, eased to 29.9% of its loanbook from 30.8% in March.

Greek banks have offered businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis a six-month freeze on loan payments as part of relief efforts to help borrowers to cope with the economic fallout from the virus lockdowns.

NBG’s payment moratoria amounted to 3.5 billion euros, offered to more than 39,000 clients, it said.

NBG said it expected to launch its “Project Frontier” securitisation of non-performing loans with a total value of more than 6.0 billion euros. The transaction will reduce its current NPE stock of 10 billion euros by nearly two thirds.

CEO Mylonas said the group aimed for completion in the first half of next year. ($1 = 0.8456 euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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