Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 6 December 2020

Arab Bank's 9-month profit plunges 68% on higher provision charges

Lender blames a 'deterioration in the macroeconomic environment' for the decline

Arab Bank's headquarters in Amman. Jordan's largest lender reported a 68% drop in profit for the first nine months of the year on higher provisions. Its provisions are high enough to cover 100 per cent of non-performing loans, the lender said. Reuters
Arab Bank's headquarters in Amman. Jordan's largest lender reported a 68% drop in profit for the first nine months of the year on higher provisions. Its provisions are high enough to cover 100 per cent of non-performing loans, the lender said. Reuters

Arab Bank Group, Jordan's largest lender, reported a 68 per cent fall in net profit for the first nine months of the year due to higher provisions for bad loans and a "deterioration in the macroeconomic environment regionally and globally".

Net profit fell to $215.2 million in the year to September 30 from the year-earlier period, the lender said in a statement on Monday. Operating income for the group declined 22 per cent due to a fall in net interest and commission income, as well as lower profits from the bank's associates in the Gulf.

The global and regional banking sectors "will continue to face challenges because of the economic contraction, the higher cost of risk, and lower interest rates", the bank's chief executive, Nemeh Sabbagh, said.

The lender's bottom line was affected by the regional and global macroeconomic climate, including lower oil prices that have led to a downturn in its operating markets. The bank has shored up its provisions as a result of the economic crisis in Lebanon, where the lender has a presence.

Economic conditions across the region are set to remain challenging this year due to the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and lower oil prices. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund projected economies of the Middle East and North Africa will shrink 5 per cent in 2020, and expand 3.2 per cent next year.

Jordan's economy, which relies almost entirely on foreign grants and aid, is set to shrink 5 per cent this year before expanding 3.4 per cent in 2021, according to the IMF. Lebanon, which is facing its worst economic crisis since the end of a civil war 30 years ago, is forecast to contract 25 per cent this year.

Despite the decline in profit, Arab Bank said it continues to maintain a "strong and robust capital base", with $9.3 billion in equity and a capital adequacy ratio of 16.7 per cent. Its ratio of credit provisions against non-performing loans also continues to exceed 100 per cent.

Customer deposits grew 8 per cent in the first nine months to $37.5bn, while the bank's loan book grew 2 per cent to $26.7bn.

Updated: October 26, 2020 07:06 PM

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