Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank Sees 11.8% Q4 Profit

The lender said earlier this month it was seeking regional acquisition targets after selling a 29.4 per cent stake in Qatar’s Ahli Bank.

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 $78.6 million for the three months to December 31, compared with $70.3 million in the corresponding period of 2011.

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

Full-year profit came in at $335.7 million, up from $310.6 million 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, chairman of Ahli United Bank.

Bahrain has seen two years of political turmoil since Arab Spring-inspired protests erupted in February 2011. There have been almost daily skirmishes between security forces and majority Shi’ites demanding an end to the monarchy’s political domination and full powers for parliament.

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

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 $18.2 billion.

Ahli United’s board recommended a cash dividend of $0.04 per share and a five per cent bonus share issue for 2012, versus a $0.03 cash dividend and five 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 $212.9 million on the sale of a 29.4 per cent stake in Qatar’s Ahli Bank to sovereign fund Qatar Foundation.