British Bank of the Middle East (BBME), a wholly owned subsidiary of the London-based HSBC Holdings, reported a 15 per cent drop in profits in 1994 to £51.6 million ($81.6 million). Last year’s profits were boosted as the bank reduced its provisions by £5.4 million, but in 1994 the bank increased provisions by £786,000.

‘The bank performed satisfactorily considering the depressed price of oil which dampened economic growth in oil producing countries,’ the chairman, William Purves, said in a statement.

He said BBME had introduced a range of new services during the year, including an automated teller machine sharing network in the UAE and an expansion of the credit card product range.

BBME’s assets fell by nearly 8 per cent to £3,056 million ($4,835 million), mainly because of a drop in investment in debt securities. Loans and advances were little changed at £1,248 million ($1,975 million).

Customer deposits fell slightly during the year to £2,589 million ($4,097 million). Net interest income rose by 8 per cent to £89.8 million ($142.1 million).

The bank operates in Lebanon, Qatar, the UAE, Switzerland and Oman. In 1994, the bank opened a fourth branch in Lebanon and a representative office in Jericho. Middle East Finance Company, a subsidiary of BBME in the UAE, reported profits of £2.4 million ($3.8 million).