Profits rise at HSBC and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

HSBC almost doubled first-quarter profits before tax and said it expected growth to accelerate in its Asian markets.

People exit a HSBC branch at Dubai Internet City in Dubai in this January 4, 2012 file photo. When global banking giant HSBC said last week that it was closing the accounts of some Middle Eastern customers with links to nations targeted by sanctions, it underlined the growing weight of geopolitics on consumer banking in Dubai. To match story EMIRATES-BANKS/GEOPOLITICS   REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro/Files (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: BUSINESS LOGO POLITICS)
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HSBC almost doubled profits before tax during the first quarter and said it expected an acceleration of growth in its Asian markets in the coming months after a slower than anticipated start to the year.

For its global business, Europe's biggest bank reported profits before tax of US$8.4 billion, a 95 per cent increase on the amount generated during the corresponding period a year earlier.

HSBC Middle East, the bank's regional arm, reported profits before tax of $524 million for the first quarter, a 57.8 per cent increase compared with a year earlier, as it released provisions earlier made for bad debts.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank also generated a rise in profits during the first quarter as lending recovered.

"Loan impairment charges were lower in every region, notably in North America. Our continued focus on cost management contributed to an improvement in our underlying cost efficiency ratio," said Stuart Gulliver, the HSBC chief executive.

"Looking at the macroeconomic environment, there are still challenges ahead. However, we expect the mainland Chinese economy to accelerate after a slower than expected start to the year; the US to continue to outperform its peers, although the pace of growth is slow compared to past standards."

At a group level, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank reported net profit for the first quarter of Dh340.1m, an increase of 10.6 per cent compared with a year earlier.

ADIB reported 5.4 per cent growth in net customer financing assets during the quarter to Dh54bn.

At the same time, the bank's provisions and charges for bad debts were flat compared with a year ago at Dh185.5m.

"While we remain cautious about the overall prospects of the markets in which we operate, I am pleased that, after our emphasis on capital preservation and retail deposit growth in 2012, ADIB has resumed its growth path," said Tirad Al Mahmoud, the bank's chief executive.

HSBC said last month that an expected surge in government spending in the Middle East would help to drive the regional economy and ramp up profits.

The bank has 21 advisory mandates in the region representing a project pipeline potentially worth $92.4bn, HSBC said, adding that it was planning to bolster its project finance team to take advantage of more awards.

In the Middle East and North Africa, HSBC's investment banking division reported a strong improvement in performance, with profits before tax more than tripling to $256m as companies sought to take advantage of historic low interest rates with new bond sales.

HSBC boosted operating revenue by releasing $62m in funds booked as provisions in previous quarters. During the same period last year, the bank put aside $111m.

However, in spite of the release of provisions, total lending fell 1.6 per cent to $29.3bn across the region, because of lower lending to financial firms.

Personal lending in the Middle East held steady at $6.2bn, although mortgage financing increased 2 per cent to $2.18bn.

The biggest increase in lending reported by HSBC was to its corporate and commercial customers, who increased their borrowings by 4.3 per cent to $22.4bn during the quarter.