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Tue 15 Apr 2014 01:33 PM

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Saudi banking major posts 7% rise in Q1 net profit

Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia's third-largest bank, attributes rise to a drop in operating expenses

Saudi banking major posts 7% rise in Q1 net profit

Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia's third-largest bank by market value, posted a 7.1 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, beating analyst forecasts as operating expenses fell.

The bank said it made a profit of SR1.24 billion ($330.64 million) in the three months to March 31, up from SR1.16 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average forecast the bank's net profit would be SR1.14 billion for the quarter.

The bank attributed the profit rise to a drop in operating expenses but did not provide further details.

Saudi companies issue brief earnings statements early in the reporting period before publishing more detailed results later.

Quarterly operating income fell 1.3 percent to SR1.87 billion, while profit from special commissions was near-flat from a year earlier at SR1.08 billion.

Loans and advances at March-end stood at SR115.6 billion, up 10.9 percent on the same point of 2013.

The bank held deposits worth SR158.8 billion as of March 31, up 4.7 percent from a year earlier.

Fitch Ratings said in January that Saudi banks should continue to see strong performance, with ample opportunity for lending provided by a good economic outlook thanks to high oil prices, high state spending and a bigger non-oil private sector.

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