Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank returned to profit in the fourth quarter of 2009, with profits of $17m compared to a loss of $24.4m in the same period of 2008.

However, the bank’s full year numbers still fell, with profits for the entire 2009 hitting $200.7m, down from $255.7m in 2008. During 2009, it made provisions of $171.5m for bad debts, including more than 90 per cent of its exposure to what it described as “impaired Saudi corporate assets”.

The total charge for impairments and loan losses rose to $228.1m, from $98.6m in the previous year.

The bank said interest income rose by 15.7 per cent to $466.6m. However, loans and advances shrank slightly to $13.3bn from $13.6bn as a result of what the bank called “a very prudent and controlled risk stance in 2009”.

Total assets were flat at $23.6bn and customer deposits were also stable at $13.2bn.