Top Saudi bank posts 2% rise in Q1 net profit

Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's largest listed lender, posted a 2 percent increase in its first-quarter net profit On Wednesday, helped by a jump in both lending and customer deposits portfolio.

The bank made a net profit of SR2.05bn ($546.6m) in the three months ending March 31, compared with SR2.01bn in the same period a year earlier, it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse.

Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters expected the bank to post, on average, SR2.03bn for the first quarter.

Two other Saudi lenders, Saudi Hollandi Bank and Saudi British Bank (SABB) beat estimates for first-quarter net profit on Monday.

Al Rajhi attributed its profit growth to higher operating income, without giving more details. Saudi banks typically do not comment on their performance until they publish more detailed results later in the quarter.

Operating income for the quarter rose by 3 percent to SR3.53bn.

Total financing at the end of the first quarter stood at SR180bn, gaining 18.4 percent on the same point of 2012, although it added that its figures for financing, assets and customer deposits had been reclassified, without elaborating.

Bank lending in Saudi Arabia dipped from December's 14-month high in the first two months of 2013 but growth was still 13.4 percent and 12 percent year-on-year in January and February respectively.

In a March 26 research note, Dubai-based Arqaam Capital said loan growth at Al Rajhi should be around 17 percent in 2013, with deposits increasing by around 16 percent over the course of the year.

Customer deposits stood at SR232bn on March 31, up 20.8 percent on the same point last year.

Al Rajhi's total assets were worth SR276bn at the end of the first quarter, up 18 percent on the same point of 2012.

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Al Rajhi Bank - Saudi Arabia
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