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SocGen ends year healthy, CEO tells TV

French bank Societe Generale will end the year in a healthy state despite a rogue trading scandal and the financial crisis, Chief Executive Frederic Oudea told the i-Tele television channel on Saturday.

The CEO described 2008, which saw the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in the largest US bankruptcy case in history, as a year of rupture.

SocGen began the year by revealing it had fallen victim to the world's worst rogue trading scandal when it unveiled €4.9 billion ($6.8 billion) of losses it said were caused by unauthorized trades by junior trader Jerome Kerviel.

However, it said it escaped with negligible exposure to the alleged $50 billion fraud by Wall Street broker Bernard Madoff that came to light this month.

“I don't see anything comparable to Lehman (happening in 2009),” Oudea said. “I think the world has learnt the lesson from Lehman.”

SocGen saw its net profit drop 84% in the third quarter, with non-recurring items from Lehman and other writedowns related to the market slump having a pretax impact of €1.2 billion.

“Societe Generale is healthy at this end of year,” Oudea told i-Tele. “It was able to show just how it was capable of managing - efficiently, it seems to me - such a shock," referring to the rogue trading scandal.

Looking ahead to early next year, Oudea added that the main issue for people's confidence would be jobs rather than spending power. (Reuters)