Jordan’s Arab Bank posts 59% rise in first-half profit to $401m

Higher revenue from core banking operations helped support lender’s earnings

Arab Bank's headquarters in Amman, Jordan. The lender has more than 600 branches across five continents. Courtesy: Arab Bank
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Arab Bank, Jordan’s biggest lender, reported a 59 per cent rise in its first-half profit, driven by robust growth in its core banking business across different markets.

Net income after tax rose to $401 million in the first six months of the year, up from $252 million recorded for the same period last year, the lender said in a statement on Saturday.

“The solid financial performance during the first six months underscores the resilience of the bank’s diversified business model that is based on prudent risk management practices and focused on achieving sustainable growth,” Sabih Masri, chairman of the board of directors, said.

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

Jordan’s economy is expected to grow by 2.6 per cent this year, the International Monetary Fund said in May.

The IMF expected inflation to be at a “moderate” 2.7 per cent for 2023, due to “an appropriate monetary policy stance”.

In the medium term, the economy is forecast to grow at 3 per cent annually, the fund said.

The banking sector dominates Jordan’s financial system and its strength is essential to support macroeconomic stability and the peg to the US dollar, according to a March report by the IMF on the country's financial system.

Arab Bank, which has more than 600 branches across five continents, said its net operating income grew by 50 per cent on diversified core banking activities and cost control.

The bank’s loans grew by 2 per cent to $36.1 billion, while its deposits rose 5 per cent to $48.3 billion, excluding the effect of several currencies’ devaluation against the US dollar, it said.

The bank’s loan-to-deposit ratio stood at 74.7 per cent and credit provisions held against non-performing loans continue to exceed 100 per cent, the statement said.

The group maintained a strong capital base with a total equity of $10.6 billion that is predominantly composed of common equity with a capital adequacy ratio – a measure of financial stability of a financial institution – of 16.8 per cent, according to the statement.

The lender’s strong results despite the volatility in the operating environment is a testament to the bank’s “robust assets base and strong capitalisation”, Randa Sadik, chief executive, said.

Jordan, which has limited natural resources, imports more than 90 per cent of its energy needs and relies on foreign aid and grants to finance its fiscal and current account needs. The kingdom is trying to overhaul its economy and cut state subsidies at a time of high public debt and unemployment.

Updated: July 29, 2023, 1:17 PM