Societe Generale enjoyed a good first quarter in 2015. Our results testify to our ability to develop a profitable growth model adapted to the needs of our customers and the new regulatory constraints. Our revenues were underpinned by the commercial dynamism of all our businesses. In an environment that remains uncertain, the Group is therefore continuing with the determined and disciplined implementation of its strategic plan.
The Group generated higher revenues of EUR 6.4 billion during the first quarter. The increase was underpinned by the development of synergies within the Group and the commercial dynamism of all our businesses which were able to capitalise on the initial signs of economic recovery in Europe.
French Retail Banking activities were once again dynamic at the beginning of 2015 in a convalescing economic environment and against a backdrop of very low interest rates. Accordingly, the French retail banking networks opened more than 100,000 accounts during the quarter, while Boursorama now has nearly 650,000 customers in France. Meanwhile home loan and business loan production was substantially higher. Revenues therefore increased 4.3% year-on-year.
International Retail Banking & Financial Services’ revenues rose 2.5% in the first quarter, driven by the good performances in Insurance and Financial Services to Corporates. International Retail Banking’s revenues were underpinned by the good performance in Europe (+2.9%) and in Sub-Saharan Africa (+17.5%) offsetting the decline in Russia. In Africa, where Societe Generale is one of the top three international banks, the Group continues to expand, opening 50 to 70 branches per year and setting up new subsidiaries to support its customers. In Russia, in a market environment under pressure, the Group continued to strengthen its balance sheet through proactive asset/liability management and enjoyed robust capital and liquidity ratios.
Global Banking & Investor Solutions was buoyed by a favourable environment: market easing, increased volatility, rise in the number of stock market listings, etc. Accordingly, revenues rose by nearly 8%. Equity activities, in particular, posted an excellent performance (+32.5%). In Financing & Advisory, the quarter was characterised by the strong commercial dynamism of capital markets activities and natural resources financing.
At the same time, Societe Generale continued to rigorously manage its costs and risks. The first quarter increase in operating expenses remained contained due to continued operating efficiency efforts, excluding the impact of new regulatory and accounting charges. As a result, 86% of the EUR 900 million cost savings plan has already been secured. As for the cost of risk, it continued to decline, with a net cost of risk down 5%.
Group net income totalled EUR 868 million, a fivefold increase compared with Q1 2014 which was impacted notably by the total write-down of the goodwill on our Russian entity.
Societe Generale enjoyed a robust balance sheet in the first quarter, with solvency ratios already in line with or close to the targets set out in its medium-term strategic plan. The Common Equity Tier 1 ratio and Total Capital ratio amounted to respectively 10.1% and 14.7%. The Group continued to generate capital, enabling it to develop its businesses while at the same time maintaining its dividend commitments.
Over the next few months, we will continue to draw on our dynamic teams, the quality of our franchises and our loan portfolios and finally our solid capital position in order to continue to roll out our strategic plan aimed at serving our customers.
I would like to thank you for your loyalty and the trust you have placed in our Group.
Frédéric Oudéa, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer