Johan Thijs, Chief Executive Officer
In many countries, the large-scale rollout of vaccines that started in the first quarter of 2021 is now running at full speed. While caution is still paramount, the general feeling is one of anticipation for a long-awaited, full resumption of social activities, and optimism for a worldwide economic recovery. From the start of this crisis almost a year and a half ago, we have taken responsibility in safeguarding the health of our staff and customers, while ensuring that services continue to be provided. We have also worked closely with government agencies to support all customers impacted by the coronavirus, implementing various measures such as loan deferrals. Besides the turmoil caused by the coronavirus crisis, various areas in Europe have been hit by recent extreme weather conditions. Parts of the Czech Republic were hit by a tornado in June, while a number of Belgian provinces recently suffered the devastating consequences of heavy flooding. Our thoughts are very much with the thousands of people who have been affected by these disasters.
More than ever, we believe that the world emerging from these crises has to be a more sustainable one and we are working tirelessly towards that scenario and are fully committed to put climate change at the top of our agenda. In that respect, following the gradual reduction in our direct exposure to the thermal coal sector since 2016, we completely eliminated our remaining direct exposure to coal in June 2021, a good six months ahead of our own schedule. At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to support investments in green energy infrastructure. In the past quarter, for example, we signed an important new project financing transaction for the first Belgian subsidy-free wind farm in Ghent. This fits into our overall target of expanding our share of renewables to 65% of our energy loan portfolio by 2030.
As regards our financial performance in the past quarter, we delivered an excellent net result of 793 million euros. Total income fell somewhat quarter-on-quarter, due primarily to a lower trading and fair value result. Net interest income and net fee and commission income, however, increased quarter-on-quarter, as did our earned non-life insurance premiums and life insurance sales. Costs decreased significantly, as the bulk of bank taxes for the full year had been recorded in the previous quarter. Lastly, we were able to reverse a significant amount of previously booked loan loss impairment charges. Our solvency position remained very strong, with a common equity ratio of 17.5% on a fully loaded basis. It is the intention of our Board to distribute, in November 2021, an additional gross dividend of 2 euros per share for financial year 2020 and – in line with our general dividend policy – pay an interim dividend of 1 euro as an advance on the total dividend for financial year 2021.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders who have continued to put their trust in us. I especially wish to express my appreciation to all our staff who have also ensured that our group has been able to operate solidly and efficiently in these challenging times and was able to continue providing high-quality services to our customers. We will reflect that appreciation by providing an exceptional Covid-related bonus to all staff as recognition of their unrelenting efforts in ensuring that our group remains the reference in bank-insurance in all our home markets.
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