Interest income lifts Bahrain's Ahli United Bank profits



Ahli United Bank, Bahrain's largest lender by market value, posted on Tuesday an 11.8 per cent gain in its fourth-quarter net profit, boosted by an increase in net interest income.

The bank made a net profit of US$78.6 million for the three months to Dec. 31, compared with $70.3m in the corresponding period of 2011.

Arqaam Capital had forecast the bank would make a quarterly profit of $118m.

Full-year profit came in at $335.7m, up from $310.6m in 2011.

The rise in profit came despite "continuing uncertain and challenging business and operating environment", which will continue into 2013, said Fahad al Rajaan, the chairman of Ahli United Bank.

Bahrain has seen two years of political turmoil since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in February 2011.

Net interest income jumped 12.3 per cent in 2012, the bank said, to $636.4m. There was a slight rise in provisioning for bad loans compared to 2011, with the bank setting aside $209.9m in 2012 against the previous year's $203.2m.

Loans and advances stood at $15.97 billion at the end of 2012, up 3.1 per cent from the end of 2011. Customer deposits grew 5.1 per cent over the course to 2012 to $18.2bn.

Ahli United's board recommended a cash dividend of $0.04 per share and a 5 per cent bonus share issue for 2012, versus a $0.03 cash dividend and 5 per cent share dividend in the previous year, the bank added.

The bank said earlier this month that it was seeking regional acquisition targets after making a total profit of $212.9m on the sale of a 29.4 per cent stake in Qatar's Ahli Bank to sovereign fund Qatar Foundation.

* Reuters

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