SNB records 6% jump in third-quarter net profit on sustained economic momentum

Net income for three-month period rose to $1.34 billion as operating income increased by 3.42%

A Saudi National Bank ATM in Riyadh. Lenders in the kingdom are benefitting from a sustained economic momentum in the Arab world's biggest economy. AFP
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Saudi National Bank, the biggest lender in Saudi Arabia by assets, reported a 6 per cent rise in its third-quarter net income as operating income climbed and provisions for bad loans fell amid the kingdom's continued economic momentum.

Net profit for the three months to the end of September rose to 5.01 billion Saudi riyals ($1.34 billion), the bank said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday to the Tadawul bourse, where its shares are traded.

Net income from commissions and investments at the end of September jumped 3.7 per cent to 6.82 billion riyals.

SNB’s total operating profit climbed 3.42 per cent to 8.73 billion riyals during the reporting period.

“Total operating income improved … driven by higher net special commission income, fees from banking services and foreign exchange income,” the lender said.

“Operating expenses, including [the] net impairment charge for expected credit losses for the third quarter [of] 2023, decreased by 10 per cent to 2.7 billion, mainly from a decrease in [the] net impairment charge for expected credit losses.”

Much in the same way as their peers in the GCC, banks in Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, continue to benefit from a rise in interest rates.

Most regional central banks peg their currencies to the US dollar and follow the US Federal Reserve's moves on interest rates increases.

The Fed has aggressively raised its benchmark policy rates over the past several quarters in an attempt to bring inflation down to its 2 per cent target range.

Despite tighter liquidity in the banking system, lenders in the kingdom are expected to remain profitable this year, with continued credit growth, as they capitalise on a favourable operating environment, Fitch Ratings said earlier this year.

The continued growth momentum in the kingdom, driven by a sharp expansion in non-oil gross domestic product, also bodes well for the continued profitability of Saudi banks, the rating agency said.

Saudi Arabia's economy grew by 1.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, a slightly quicker pace of growth than the initial estimates, driven by a sharp expansion in the non-oil sector.

The kingdom’s GDP at current prices hit 970 billion riyals in the three months to the end of June, according to General Authority for Statistics data.

The non-oil sector grew by 6.1 per cent on an annual basis, beating the authority's initial estimate of a 5.5 per cent expansion in the three-month period to the end of June.

Saudi Arabia’s economy grew by 8.7 per cent last year, the highest annual expansion rate among the world's 20 biggest economies, driven by a rise in oil prices and the strong performance of its non-oil private sector.

SNB said the continued economic momentum also reflected in the lender’s nine-month financial performance.

Net income for the January-September period climbed by about 9 per cent to 15.05 billion riyals. Total comprehensive income jumped by about 65 per cent on an annual basis to 9.59 billion riyals.

Assets at the end of the reporting period rose by 6.5 per cent year on year to 1.03 trillion riyals while loans and advances portfolio increased by more than 11 per cent on an annual basis to 595.72 billion riyals.

Customer deposits increased by about 5 per cent per cent during the period to 624.78 billion riyals.

Updated: October 24, 2023, 8:03 AM