21/02/2012 21:30 AST

Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank (AUB) said it has registered a full year net profit of $310.6 million for 2011, up 17 per cent compared to the year before.

Announcing the results on Tuesday, AUB said the last quarter had contributed $70.3 million to the overall result, as compared to $64.4 million the previous year.

This was landmark result for a year which witnessed major geopolitical developments with associated economic ramifications ranging from declining consumer and business confidence, subdued lending demand and reduced client activity driven by market volatility, widening credit spreads and pro-active downward revisions in credit ratings of US and many Euro-zone countries, the bank added.

AUB said the provision charge on loan losses fell by 14.4 per cent to $129.8 million.

'Of the total loan loss provision charge made during the year, $79.1 million (61 per cent) represents collective impairment provisions primarily undertaken to comply with regulatory provision requirements in different AUB markets and are not related to any specific counterparty impairments,' he noted.

'The overall provision coverage ratio (including collective impairment provisions) increased to 135 per cent as compared to 120 per cent as of December 31, 2010.

AUB said that against backdrop of a very challenging business environment, the bank had pursued prudent liquidity build-up and capital preservation measures as its key priorities complemented by stringent cost controls to ensure its ability to effectively service its customers in providing necessary credit and other banking support under the most challenging conditions.

The advent of the Arab Spring added a regional dimension to the earlier evolving Euro-zone debt crisis and generally worsening macro-economic indicators globally, it stated.

Impressed with the results, AUB's board has recommended a cash dividend of $3 cents per share together with a bonus ordinary share issue of 5 per cent to augment share capital.

The bank said overall the customer deposits jumped by 16.9 per cent to hit $17.3 billion, while the overall Interbank & Repo Borrowings decreased by $0.8 billion as part of a plan to reduce wholesale funding dependence.

The AUB Group maintained its focus on prudent lending norms while meeting its commitments to its customers and maintaining support for viable initiatives.

Overall loans and advances rose by 7 per cent to $15.5 billion, said the Bahraini bank in a stattement.

As part of its liquidity management, additional liquid funds were deployed in treasury bills and deposits with regional Central Banks and other high quality liquidity management instruments, which increased from $2.1 billion as at 31 December 2010 to $2.6 billion as at December 31, 2011, the bank said.

Total consolidated assets stood at $28.3 billion, being 7.1 per cent higher than their $26.5 billion level at December 2010.

AUB Group’s operating income rose by 11.6 per cent to hit $842.1 million over 2010, driven by a 11.4 per cent increase in net interest income. The associate banks in Qatar and Oman also contributed a 10 per cent increase in profit share over 2010, it added.

Commenting on the results, AUB chairman Fahad Al-Rajaan said, “AUB continued its solid performance in 2011 against the backdrop of a very challenging global business environment whose risks are continuing."

"Despite the geo-political developments in the region and the Euro-zone crisis, AUB sustained its growth in operating income and net profit demonstrating its strong underlying fundamentals and importance of its diversified business model," he added.


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