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Sat 11 Apr 2009 12:20 PM

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Gulf's largest lender posts 8% profit rise Q1, 2009

Better-than-expected profit rise for Al Rajhi Bank came from core activities.

Saudi-based Al Rajhi Bank, the Gulf's largest lender by market value, posted a better-than-expected 8.1 percent rise in first-quarter net profit mainly on growth in core activities.

Rajhi made SR1.73bn ($461.3m) in net profit in the three months to March 31, up from SR1.60bn in the year-earlier period, the bank said in a statement on the bourse website.

Analysts' forecast of the Islamic lender's first-quarter earnings ranged from SR1.45bn to SR1.69bn, according to a Reuters survey this month.

Net investment and financing income - the equivalent of net income from lending in traditional banking - rose 12.5 percent to SR2.28bn.

Earnings per share at the end of March stood at SR1.15 up from SR1.07 a year earlier, it added.

Rajhi was the first Saudi lender to announce its first-quarter earnings.

Saudi banks have said they were little affected by the global financial crisis.

Banks in the world's largest oil exporter have moved away from relying on income related to stock market activities since a 2006 bourse crash.

Shares of Rajhi are down about 0.4 percent this year, which is below the year-to-date performances of both the banking and financial benchmark index and the main stock index. (Reuters)

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