Societe Generale has produced very good results during the first half of 2015 due to the commercial dynamism of all the businesses. At the same time, our Group has continued to strengthen its balance sheet. We are therefore well positioned to capitalise on the economic recovery in Europe. All our Group’s businesses are in line with their targets, with the sole exception of Russia where the situation is gradually normalising.
In H1 2015, our Group generated revenues up by more than 14% thanks to the positive contribution of our three major businesses: French Retail Banking, International Retail Banking & Financial Services and Global Banking & Investor Solutions. We therefore generated Group net income of EUR 2.2 billion in H1, up by nearly 78%. Earnings per share, EPS, amounts to EUR 2.54 which is substantially higher than in H1 2014 (EUR 1.37).
French Retail Banking provided further confirmation of its commercial dynamism with strong growth in outstanding deposits and a proactive approach to winning new customers: our three brands (Societe Generale, Crédit du Nord and Boursorama) opened a total of 185,000 current accounts in H1. Finally and for the first time for several quarters, French Retail Banking’s outstanding loans started to increase (+1.3% in Q2).
International Retail Banking & Financial Services’ revenues increased by more than 2% in H1, when adjusted for changes in Group structure and at constant exchange rates, due to the strong commercial momentum in our retail banking networks in Western Europe, the Balkans and Africa. Activity was also buoyant in Financial Services to Corporates and Insurance. In Russia, the economic environment remains deteriorated but commercial activity is gradually picking up and the cost of risk is declining.
Global Banking & Investor Solutions posted an increase in revenues of nearly 9% in H1, when adjusted for changes in Group structure and at constant exchange rates, primarily due to the very good performances of equity market activities and Financing & Advisory. For example, natural resources financing enjoyed an excellent quarter, marked by major project financing transactions.
Operating expenses remained under control and we have secured 97% of the objectives of our EUR 900 million cost savings plan. We have decided to extend it, with an additional reduction in our operating expenses of EUR 850 million over the period 2015-2017. As for the commercial cost of risk, it was substantially lower at 49 basis points vs. 61 basis points in H1 2014.
Midway through its strategic plan, our Group is on track to achieve all its targets, and in some cases exceed them. Our pro forma ROE, a key measure of our Group’s profitability, stood at 10.3% in Q2, in line with the target of 10% for end-2016.
In the coming months, we will continue to place the customer and digital at the heart of the transformation of our business model. Our priorities will be to capitalise on the expected rebound in Europe, roll out our digital strategy in all our businesses and continue to improve our operating efficiency. Our aim is to generate profitable growth in order to serve our customers and shareholders. We have confirmed our objectives in the continuation of our plan. Given EPS of EUR 2.54 and a 50% payout ratio, we have already secured a dividend provision of EUR 1.27 per share which is more than for the whole of 2014.
I would like to thank you for your loyalty and the trust you have placed in our Group.
Frédéric Oudéa, Chief Executive Officer