First Abu Dhabi Bank profit surges 70% in first quarter on fee income

Net income for first three months climbed to $1.07 billion, excluding Magnati-related capital gains in first quarter of 2022

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - February 7th, 2018: FAB (First Abu Dhabi Bank) Head office - Business Park. Wednesday, February 7th, 2018. Twofour54, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest lender by assets, reported a 70 per cent surge in its first quarter net profit, driven by a sharp rise in interest income and sustained momentum across all business segments.

Net profit attributable to shareholders for the three months to the end of March surged to Dh3.9 billion ($1.07 billion), excluding Magnati-related capital gains recorded in the first quarter of 2022, the bank said in a statement on Thursday to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

Net interest income increased by an annual 41 per cent to Dh4.4 billion in the first quarter, total assets increased 21 per cent to nearly Dh1.2 billion, and the bank attracted Dh80 billion in customer deposits in the period.

“Building on a record year in 2022 and prudent actions taken in the fourth quarter of last year, the notable improvement … was driven by sustained momentum across all business segments and product lines, cost and risk discipline, and our proven ability to navigate evolving market conditions,” said Hana Al Rostamani, FAB group chief executive.

“During the period, we remained focused on meeting our clients’ evolving needs, across all segments. Using our scale, specialisation, partnerships, and the transformative power of technology, we are building a bank fit for the future, centred around our customers.”

FAB said its quarterly profit was also supported by a 74 per cent rise in non-interest income to Dh2.3 billion, as continued economic momentum in the UAE boosted performance across all core business.

Most central banks across the globe are continuing to follow the US Federal Reserve's lead on increasing benchmark policy rates. The Fed is trying to bring inflation down towards its target range of 2 per cent and restore price stability amid market turmoil fuelled by recent bank failures in the world's largest economy.

Lenders in the GCC, where most central banks peg their currency to the US dollar, are benefiting from rising interest rates as their economies recover strongly and inflation in the region remains relatively low.

Profitability of the four largest banks in the UAE will continue to grow this year amid rising interest rates and continuing economic momentum, Moody's Investors Service said in March.

After growing 7.6 per cent in 2022, the most in 11 years, the UAE economy is expected to expand 3.9 per cent this year and 4.3 per cent in 2024, the UAE Central Bank said last month.

FAB said its cost-to-income ratio at the end of March reached 25.1 per cent, compared with 33.2 per cent recorded in the first quarter of 2022.

Loans and advances and Islamic financing rose 9 per cent on an annual basis to Dh473 billion.

The lender, which expects the UAE's economy to expand by about 5 per cent this year and maintain robust growth momentum next year, is also upbeat about the regional growth prospects.

“Despite the global headwinds, to which the GCC will not be immune, we expect the economies of the UAE and KSA [Saudi Arabia] to remain robust as the region continues to focus on economic growth and diversification,” FAB said.

The GCC, with most members of the economic bloc holding their PMI’s firmly above 50 since late 2020, has experienced continued strength and resilience. However, Egypt’s macro narrative remains fragile, the bank said.

On the oil outlook, FAB expects the Brent benchmark to average $89 per barrel this year, compared to an original target of $93 per barrel.

However, despite a slowing global economy, the bank is “positioned to navigate uncertain times”, Ms Al Rostamani said.

FAB is open to acquisition opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa and in markets beyond as long as the deals make commercial sense and create value for the bank.

The lender is also open to acquiring international banks if an opportunity presents itself, as it continues to expand its footprint in markets across continents, Ms Al Rostamani told The National earlier this month.

Updated: April 27, 2023, 7:12 AM