* SocGen says strong enough to withstand market turmoil
* Books slump-related writedowns of 1.2 bln euros
* French PM not ruling out taking stakes in French banks
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS (Reuters) - French bank Societe Generale (
Net profit fell to 183 million euros ($233.8 million), with earnings hit by a 244 million-euro loss at its corporate and investment banking division.
SocGen said non-recurring items from the collapse of Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers (
Excluding this, it said net profit would have been around 1 billion euros, in line with guidance given by the bank last month.
SocGen's gross operating profit fell 29.5 percent to 1.411 billion euros, while its pro forma Tier 1 ratio -- factoring in French state support for the banking sector -- stood at 9 percent.
"This sound solvency, coupled with the quality of its various customer franchises, will help SocGen to successfully pursue its strategy as well as weather a potential deterioration in the economic environment in 2009," it said in a statement.
West LB analyst Christoph Bossmann, who kept a "hold" rating on SocGen shares, said the operating performance was "OK while the Tier 1 ratio is a positive."
SocGen is the first French bank to post third-quarter results. BNP Paribas (
The credit crisis has crippled the world's top banks and led to government intervention around the world, including in France.
Earlier this month, U.S. bank Wachovia Corp (WB.N) posted a record third-quarter loss of $23.9 billion. Spain's Santander (
On Monday, Germany's Commerzbank (
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has earmarked 360 billion euros for the country's finance sector as part of an international effort to help banks survive the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression almost 80 years ago.
France has also agreed to lend 10.5 billion euros to the country's top banks to encourage them to lend to businesses.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon was quoted by Le Figaro newspaper on Monday as saying that if the banks did not use the money to lend to businesses, then the government could take direct stakes in the banks.
SocGen Chief Executive Frederic Oudea said in a radio interview on Monday the bank was continuing to lend, adding that it was not losing customers.
France has agreed to subscribe to subordinated debt issued by Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA) for 3 billion euros, BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) for 2.55 billion, SocGen (
It will also lend 1.1 billion to Caisse d'Epargne and 950 million to Caisse d'Epargne's merger partner, Banque Populaire.
SocGen shares closed up 6.5 percent at 42.18 euros on Friday, giving it a market capitalization of around 25 billion euros. Its shares have fallen around 55 percent since the start of the year, broadly in line with a 53 percent fall in the DJ Stoxx European bank index (.SX7P).
In January, SocGen fell victim to the world's worst rogue trading scandal when it unveiled 4.9 billion euros of losses, which it said were caused by unauthorised trades conducted by Jerome Kerviel, a 31-year old junior trader at the bank.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by James Regan and John Stonestreet)