The combined net profit of the 100 biggest banks in Southeast Europe (SEE) grew to a historic high in 2018 despite low interest rates, with Romania's Banca Transilvania emerging as the regional leader in terms of assets, a new ranking by SeeNews showed on Tuesday. The total net profit of the top 100 lenders by assets in the region rose to 4.354 billion euro ($4.894 billion) in 2018, up by 24% as compared to the aggregate net profit of the entrants in last year’s ranking, the SEE TOP 100 Banks ranking showed. The banks in SEE put up a solid performance in 2018, operating in an improving economic environment amid high liquidity and in the absence of major external or internal shocks. Expanding loan portfolios combined with shrinking NPLs and asset impairments to support a rise in net profit which soared to a historic high despite low interest rates, the authors of the publication commented. The ongoing consolidation brought a change in the ranking of the five biggest banks in SEE. With 15.9 billion euro in assets at the end of 2018, up by 25% year-on-year, Romania’s Banca Transilvania replaced Banca Comerciala Romana as the biggest bank in the region after buying Bancpost, a unit of Greece's Eurobank.