Lower provisions for bad loans enabled Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) to report a 3 per cent rise in net profits to $104 million for the first nine months of 1996, though the group’s operating profits were lower for the period because of a fall in non-interest income.

ABC is the Arab world’s largest bank in terms of total assets. Based in Bahrain, it has a presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia as well as the Middle East and controls several sizeable banks. Net profits for the first half of this year were slightly down on 1995 (MEED 23:8:96).

ABC’s total assets were 8.5 per cent higher on the year at the end of September at $21,417 million, with most of the increase going into interbank placements. On the liability side, interbank borrowing rose by 14 per cent and customer deposits by about 5 per cent. Reserves and retained earnings at the end of September were nearly 25 per cent higher than the previous year, reflecting a decision not to pay a dividend for 1995. The bank is currently reviewing its global strategy and is due to get a new chief executive early next year (MEED 29:11:96).