Citibank Korea-2012 earnings

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- Citibank Korea Inc., the South Korean unit of U.S.-based Citigroup, said Friday that its earnings plunged in 2012 due largely to decreased interest and non-interest income.

Net profit came at 189 billion won (US$169.8 million) in 2012, down 58.6 percent from a year earlier, the bank said in a regulatory filing.

The bank said its interest profit shed 3.9 percent on-year to 1.4 trillion won last year, and its non-interest income also plunged 47.6 percent to 77.1 billion won over the cited period.

Citibank Korea's net interest margin (NIM), a key gauge of profitability, came at 2.7 percent last year, down 0.17 percentage point from 2011, due mainly to the government's regulations including lending rate cuts.

South Korean banks have faced squeezed profit margins and falling interest income as the central bank's easing cycle and sluggish economic growth make it difficult for lenders to charge more for loans.

Meanwhile, shareholders of Citibank Korea on Friday nominated Ha Young-gu to head the company until 2016, marking the fifth consecutive terms. Ha first served as a chairman of Citibank Korea in 2001.

Market watchers said shareholders' decision came as the firm continued to boast fare earnings during Ha's term. The bank posted a net profit of 200 billion won in 2001, the first year of his chairmanship, compared to a net 400 billion won loss tallied a year earlier.

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