Saudi Arabia’s Alinma Bank has reported an 85 per cent fall in profits in the fourth quarter of 2009 to SR5.58m ($1.49m), from SR38.6m in the previous quarter.

The bank has attributed the steep decline to increased operational costs.

“The reason for the decline in the net profits for the fourth quarter…is increased operational costs of the media campaign in the fourth quarter and the cost of new branches” said chief executive officer Abdulmohsen Al-Fares, in a statement posted on the Saudi Stock Market (Tadawul) website.

The bank opened its first retail banking branch in July last year and now has a network of 18 branches, in Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam, Khamis Mushayt and Hofuf. It plans to add another 20 branches this year.

Customer deposits stood at SR1.50bn at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009, while loans to banks and other financial institutions amounted to SR13.85bn.

Total assets held by the bank rose to SR17.31bn, a 11.2 per cent increase from the SR15.5bn at the end of 2008.