Saudi state-owned lender NCB posts 19.4% Q1 net profit rise

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Saudi Arabia's largest lender by assets, National Commercial Bank (NCB), posted a 19.4 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on the back of higher special commission and fee income, it said on Sunday.

The majority state-owned bank reported a net profit of 2.33 billion riyals ($621.3 million) for the first three months of 2013, compared to 1.95 billion riyals in the corresponding period of last year, the bank said in a statement.

The profit jump was driven by a 10.4 percent increase in special commission income and a 7.2 percent hike in fee income from banking services, Mansour al-Maiman, chairman of NCB, said in the statement without elaborating.

Unlisted NCB reported loans and advances climbed 19.9 percent year-on-year to stand at 171 billion riyals at the end of March, while customer deposits grew 11.6 percent to 277 billion riyals.

Bank lending growth in Saudi Arabia dipped from December's 46-month high of 16.4 percent in the first two months of 2013, but it was still rapid at 15.9 percent in January and 15.6 percent in February.

Standard & Poor's said in a March report on the Gulf Cooperation Council banking sector that loan growth at Saudi banks would remain strong this year, given healthy demand in both the retail and corporate sectors.

The bank's government stake is held between two state funds, with 69.3 percent controlled by the Public Investment Fund and 10 percent by the General Organisation for Social Insurance. The remaining stock is privately held, according to Fitch Ratings, which affirmed NCB's rating at A+ in December.

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