LJUBLJANA, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Slovenian banks reduced the amount of bad loans on their books in August, helping to lift net profit for the sector as a whole, the central bank said in a report on Tuesday.
Bad loans fell to a little less than 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion) in August, representing 7.2 percent of all loans, down from 7.3 percent the previous month.
The Bank of Slovenia said that banks made joint net profit of 315 million euros in the first eight months of the year, against 311 million euros in the same period of 2016, mainly because of reduced provisions for bad loans amid favourable economic conditions.
"Balance sheet assets rose by 2.1 percent year on year ... particularly on account of deposits of non-financial companies," the central bank said in its report.
Loans to non-financial companies rose by 7.5 percent year on year, mainly attributable to small and medium-sized companies. Consumer loans were up by about 13 percent.
Slovenia, which narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013, returned to growth a year later and the government expects the economy to expand by 4.4 percent this year from 3.1 percent in 2016.
Earlier on Tuesday the statistics office said that August exports jumped by almost 19 percent year on year, the biggest increase in six-and-a-half years.
The government controls about 45 percent of the Slovenian banking sector because some of the biggest are still state-owned.
The rest are owned by foreign banks and investors, including U.S. investment firm Apollo Global Management, France's Societe Generale, Italy's Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, Russia's Sberbank and Austria's Sparkasse and Addiko Bank. ($1 = 0.8487 euros) (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by David Goodman)