Saudi National Bank's first-half income climbs amid economic rebound

The lender reaped $1.72bn in net profit in the first six months of 2021

(FILES) A file photo taken on December 12, 2019 shows a view of the exchange board at the Stock Exchange Market (Tadawul) bourse in Riyadh displaying Aramco shares on the second day of their trading. Energy giant Saudi Aramco said on Sunday its net profit for the second quarter plunged a massive 73 percent year-on-year due to sharply lower oil prices.

Saudi National Bank, the country’s biggest lender by assets, reported a more than 12 per cent rise in its first-half net profit on the back of higher operating profit as the kingdom’s economy rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Net profit for the six months to the end of June climbed to 5.52 billion Saudi riyals ($1.72bn), SNB said in a statement on Thursday to the Tadawul stock exchange, where its shares are traded.

Half-yearly operating profit climbed more than 31 per cent to 13.3bn riyals, driven by a 22.7 per cent rise in net income from special commissions, financing and investment activities to 9.96bn riyals.

As with their global peers, banks in Saudi Arabia, Opec’s biggest oil producer and the world's largest crude exporter, faced tougher operating conditions in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted economic momentum.

However, the Arab world's largest economy is bouncing back with monetary and fiscal support from the government.

The International Monetary Fund expects Saudi Arabia’s economy to grow by 2.4 per cent this year and 4.8 per cent in 2022, driven by a strong rebound in the non-oil sector and investment from its sovereign wealth fund.

SNB, which completed its merger with Samba Financial Group, said a 57.2 per increase in its total operating expenses, including those related to the merger and impairments charge for expected credit losses, dented its profitability in the first six months of the year.

The lender said its second-quarter net income rose 1.3 per cent to 2.11bn riyals. It was more than 38 per cent lower quarter-on-quarter, on merger costs.

Updated: August 5th 2021, 2:24 PM