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Slovenian banks increase first-quarter profit slightly, bad loans fall

LJUBLJANA, May 28 (Reuters) - Slovenian banks made a combined net profit of 130.2 million euros ($145.63 million) in the first quarter of 2019, up from 128.8 million a year ago, the Bank of Slovenia said in a monthly report on Tuesday.

Slovenia narrowly avoided an international bailout of its banks in 2013. The government fully or partially owns some of the biggest banks and controls about 30 percent of the banking sector.

The central bank said bad loans fell to about 1.6 billion euros in March or 3.6% of all loans, down from 3.7% a month before and 4% at the end of 2018. Balance sheet assets rose by 3.7% year-on-year while loans to the non-banking sector were up by 4.4%.

"All banks had a profit," the central bank said, adding: "The banks need to remain active in reducing remaining bad loans as this process may slow down strongly with slowing down of the economic growth."

Slovenia's economy returned to growth in 2014 following its banking crisis and the government expects the economy to expand by 3.4% this year versus 4.5% in 2018.

The remaining Slovenian banks are mostly owned by foreign banks and investors, including U.S. investment firm Apollo Global Management, Italy's UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, Russia's Sberbank, Hungary's OTP bank, Serbia's AIK bank and Austria's Sparkasse and Addiko Bank. ($1 = 0.8941 euros) (Reporting By Marja Novak. Editing by Jane Merriman)