The British Bank of the Middle East (BBME) has announced a 3 per cent increase in 1996 half-year profits to $49.3 million compared with the same period the previous year.

Operating profit before provisions was up 15 per cent at $72.5 million. Pre-tax profits were up 8 per cent at $66 3 million. Assets at 30 June 1996 stood at $5,242 million.

A BBME statement said that continued emphasis on technical and infrastructure improvement has caused a rise in operating expenses, although such developments are expected to contribute to future growth. The statement also said that a satisfactory improvement in profitability had been achieved in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Lebanon, and the Middle East Finance Company.