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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Profit cheer for Egg
Egg credit card
Egg now has 1.5 million credit card customers
Internet banking pioneer Egg has confirmed its move into profit in the UK and said it is confident of staying that way.

Egg reported pre-tax profits of 4.1m for its core UK operations for the first three months of 2002, reversing losses of 37.2m in the same period a year ago and beating analysts' expectations for profits of 3m.

The bank first broke into the black last November, but Egg said this was the first time the bank had been profitable in any three month period in the UK.

"With revenues growing strongly and costs remaining tightly controlled, we are sustainably profitable in the UK," said chief executive Paul Gratton.

Group-wide profits were 2.4m over the same period.

Focus on France

For now, Egg plans to concentrate on its international expansion plans rather than buying new businesses.

Egg, which is in the midst of acquiring French internet bank Zebank, said it was "on track" to complete the purchase and hold a French launch in 2002.

"This will make us quite busy in France later this year," said finance director Stacey Cartwright.

Egg has put aside 100m to invest in its French operations.

More card holders

Egg's other area of expansion is its credit card business.

The bank acquired 157,000 net new customers between January and March 2002, "the majority" of whom joined through Egg Card, according to Mr Gratton.

Egg had 2.1 million customers at the end of March, and 1.5 million of them held Egg credit cards.

Mr Gratton said the bank has "had a good start to the second quarter" of this year, winning 50,000 new customers in the first three weeks of April alone.

Wooing savers

A revamp of its online savings products, and the addition of new investment options, has led to 281m of deposits in the three weeks to 22 April.

Egg, which is majority owned by insurance giant Prudential, floated on the London Stock Exchange in June 2000, within months of its launch.

Shares in Egg had risen 5p to 172p by mid-morning trade in London.

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Egg backs digital payments
25 Feb 02 | Business
Egg moves towards profit
29 Jan 02 | Business
Egg buys French internet bank
08 Mar 02 | Business
Banks shun online sales pitch
21 Feb 02 | Scotland
Internet bank to create 600 jobs
13 Feb 02 | Business
Gay online bank shuts down
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