By Souhail Karam
Profits at Saudi banks declined during Q1 mainly due to a decline in lending income.
Samba Financial Group and SABB, two of Saudi Arabia's biggest lenders, booked additional provisions against loan losses during the first quarter after a surge in bad loans last year.
Profits at most Saudi banks declined during the first quarter due mainly to a decline in lending income.
It followed a difficult 2009 when Saudi lenders' profitability was eroded by provisions to counter exposure to a pair of troubled Saudi firms as well as flat credit growth in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Saudi stock exchange data showed Samba booked $42.69 million impairment charges for loan losses during the three months to March 31. That compares with $54.1 million a year earlier.
SABB, in which HSBC holds a 40 percent stake, set aside $47.05 million to cover loan losses during the first quarter of 2010 against $31 million in the year earlier period and a total of around $400 million for all of 2009, the data showed.
Smaller rival Saudi Investment Bank booked $83.4 million in the first quarter, up from $1.3 million a year earlier and against $115.8 million during the fourth quarter of 2009.
Banque Saudi Fransi, affiliated to French Calyon, raised loan loss provisions by an annual 17 percent in the first quarter to $14.3 million, which is far below the $111.4 million it booked during the last quarter of 2009 for the same purpose.
Saudi Hollandi Bank meanwhile booked $12.1 million in the first quarter, compared to $13.3 million in the prior year period. It booked $200.9 million during the fourth quarter of last year. (Reuters)For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.