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Mon 27 Oct 2014 04:51 PM

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Bahrain's largest lender posts 14% rise in Q3 net profit

Ahli United Bank says provisioning declined and net interest income increased in third quarter

Bahrain's largest lender posts 14% rise in Q3 net profit
AUB headquarters, Bahrain

Ahli United Bank, Bahrain's largest lender, posted a 14.8 percent increase in its third-quarter net attributable profit, the bank said in a statement on Monday, as provisioning declined and net interest income rose.

The bank's net attributable profit for the three months to September 30 was $113.8 million, compared with $99.1 million in the corresponding period of 2013.

Investment bank SICO Bahrain had forecast the bank would make a net profit of $134.8 million..

Boosting profits was a 19.8 percent fall in net provisions for loan losses to $30.3 million in the third quarter, from $36.3 million in the same period of last year. Provisions for non-trading investments also sank to $7.1 million, compared to $18.8 million in the corresponding period of last year.

Strengthening asset quality is enabling Gulf banks to set aside less cash to cover bad loans after the global financial crisis triggered a spate of debt troubles in the region.

Net interest income rose to $196.9 million in the third quarter. That represented a rise of 4.3 percent from $188.8 million in the same period of last year.

Higher lending contributed to this, with AUB's total loans standing at $18.7 billion at the end of September, up 8.2 percent on the start of the year.

"AUB's diversification in its major operating markets and its continued success in expanding cross border business flows between these markets have helped it achieve a robust growth in sustainable core operating revenues, while maintaining solid asset quality parameters," Chairman Fahad al-Rajaan said.

AUB has been the subject of M&A speculation, with sources telling Reuters in April that a stake in the bank could be sold or it could be merged with another bank.

The bank has operations in six Middle East and North African countries, as well as the United Kingdom.

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