Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by assets, reported an increase of more than 16 per cent in its 2022 profit as total operating income rose and impairment charges decreased.
Net profit for the period ended December climbed to more than 17.15 billion Saudi riyals ($4.6 billion) from 14.75 billion riyals a year earlier, the Riyadh-based bank said on Monday in a statement to the Tadawul, where its shares are traded.
Total operating income rose by 11 per cent due to an "increase in net financing and investment income, fees from banking services, exchange income and other operating income", Al Rajhi said.
The bank's net income from special commissions, financing and investments improved about 9 per cent annually to 22.17 billion riyals, while impairment charges for financing decreased by almost 15 per cent to 2 billion riyals at the end of 2022.
Total operating expenses for 2022, including impairment charges, rose by nearly 2 per cent as salaries and employee benefits, depreciation expenses and other general and administrative spending increased, the lender said.
Banks in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, recorded strong growth in 2022 on the back of an improving economic scenario.
Higher interest rates, lower impairment charges and an improvement in asset quality have all boosted lenders' operations, professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal said in a recent study.
That resulted in Saudi Arabia's 10 largest banks recording a 9 per cent annual rise in third-quarter net profit last year, the New York City-based consultancy said.
Saudi Arabia's economy has been described as a "bright spot" during a period when the rest of the world is facing challenges, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this month.
Saudi Arabia's preliminary estimates for 2023 indicate real gross domestic product growth of 3.1 per cent, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said in December.
The country's economy is forecast to have grown 8.5 per cent in 2022, he said.
At the GCC level, banks in the region's four biggest banking markets — the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — were projected to "almost reach" pre-Covid profitability levels by the end of 2022, S&P Global Ratings previously said.
Higher oil prices, rising interest rates and new public projects were seen to help lenders in their operations, the rating agency said.
Al Rajhi's assets jumped more than 22 per cent annually to 762.37 billion riyals, while investments climbed almost 21 per cent year-on-year to 102.15 billion riyals last year.
Client deposits rose more than 10 per cent to 564.93 billion riyals, while the bank's loans and advances portfolio climbed by more than 25 per cent annually to 568.34 billion riyals.