Emirates NBD, the region’s biggest bank by assets, has reported a 9 per cent fall in profits in 2009, after impairments rose to AED3.3bn ($898m) from AED1.7bn in 2008.

The impairments include a AED316m charge for its investment in Dubai-based Union Properties.

Provisions for bad loans have been increasing in the UAE following the collapse in the real estate market.

Emirates NBD has yet to disclose how much of its loan book consists of exposure to Dubai World, which is preparing to ask its lenders for a standstill on $22bn of debt.

Emirates NBD said total assets fell slightly in value, to AED281.6bn at the end of 2009 from AED282.4bn in 2008.

Loans grew 2.7 per cent to AED214.6bn, and deposits grew 11.6 per cent to AED181.2bn.

The slowdown in loan growth has helped the bank improve its loan to deposit ratio to 118 per cent from 129 per cent at the end of 2008, and closer to the Central Bank of the UAE’s target of 100 per cent.