Lebanese Banks Excell, once more


lebanese_banksFinancial results issued by five banks listed on the Beirut Stock Exchange show that their aggregate net profits reached $823.3m in 2008, constituting an increase of 23.4 percent from $667.1m in 2007, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.

BLOM Bank posted $251.6 million in net profits, followed by Banque Audi with $238.5 million, Byblos Bank with $122 million, Bank of Beirut with $66.34 million and Banque Bemo with $7.5 million.

The average net profits of the five banks increased by 22.6 percent in 2008, constituting a slowdown from the average net profit growth of 34.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2008 and from the average net profit growth of 43 percent posted in the first half of 2008. The 5 banks posted an average net income of $34.56 million in the fourth quarter, down 10 percent from $31.34 million realized in the fourth quarter of 2007 and an increase of 26 percent from the $31.34 million achieved in the third quarter of 2008. Byblos Bank’s profits rose by 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 relative the same quarter of the previous year, posting the only increase in profits quarter-to-quarter among the 5 banks. BLOM Bank’s profits regressed by 2 percent quarter-to-quarter, Bank Audi’s income dropped by 3 percent, Banque Bemo’s profits declined by 19 percent and Bank of Beirut’s net income fell by 36 percent during the covered period.

In parallel, BLOM’s net trading income reached $11.14 million in the second half of 2008, up 28 percent from the first half of the year, while Bank of Beirut’s net trading income rose by 152 percent to $4.65 million during the same period. Bank Audi’s net trading income fell by 101 percent in the second half of the year to a loss of $0.44 million compared to a profit of $50.32 million in the first half of 2008, and Banque Bemo posted the steepest decline in this category, as its net trading income dropped by 236 percent on a semi-annual basis to a loss of $1.36 million.

The aggregate assets of the 5 banks rose by 13.7 percent to $56.3 billion at end-2008, while their total loans increased by 28.8 percent to $14 billino.  Byblos Bank posted the highest year-on-year growth in asset at 18.5 percent, followed by Bank Audi with 17.9 percent, Banque Bemo with 15.1 percent, Bank of Beirut with 10.6 percent and BLOM Bank with 7.4 percent.  Also, the banks’ deposits reached $45.1 billion at the end of 2008, an increase of 15.5 percent from end-2007. BLOM Bank posted the lowest loans-to-deposit ratio at 23.1 percent compared to 20.3 percent in 2007, followed by Byblos Bank with a ratio of 33.5 percent relative to 30.8 percent in 2007, Audi with 34.9 percent from 32.3 percent in 2007, Bank of Beirut with 35.1 percent from 28.8 percent in 2007, and Bemo with a 49.9 percent ratio, unchanged from 2007. – Lebanon This Week


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