Hong Kong sale buoys ABC's 1993 profits

18 February 1994

Consolidated net profits for the Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) group reached $135 million in 1993, a rise of 70 per cent on 1992, the bank announced on 7 February. Analysts say the figures were boosted by the sale of part of ABC's Hong Kong subsidiary in October 1993.

Full financial details, including the proposed dividend to shareholders, will be released after the annual general meeting at the end of March, ABC says. Consolidated operating profit before provisions, taxation and minority interests rose by almost 30 per cent to a record $316 million in 1993. Pre-tax profits rose by 65 per cent to $168 million from $102 million at the end of 1992.

It is the second successive year in which ABC's profits have risen substantially, following heavy losses in 1990 and zero profits in 1989. The 1993 result shows a considerable increase on pre-tax profits for the first half of 1993. These rose by only 14 per cent to $74 million, compared with the first half of 1992 (MEED 13:8:93).

The 1993 figures have been buoyed by the sale of 45 per cent of ABC's wholly owned subsidiary in Hong Kong, International Bank of Asia (IBA). ABC agreed in October to sell 20 per cent of IBA to China's Everbright, and float 25 per cent on the Hong Kong stock exchange (MEED 22:10:93). IBA had total assets of $1,000 million in 1992. ABC did not disclose how much Everbright paid for its IBA stake, but said in November that the public offering had been oversubscribed by 23 times. The issued share capital was valued at $HK 2,394 million ($310 million - MEED 10:12:93).

Assets, which stood at $19,800 million in June 1993, are gradually declining, due to a strategic increase in off-balance sheet activities, ABC says.

ABC president and chief executive Abdulla A Saudi said in October that the bank was making the strategic move of expanding its operations in the Maghreb and Asia and concentrating on trade finance opportunities. The bank has upgraded its operations in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, and said it planned a presence in China.

ABC is owned by the governments of Libya, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, and by private shareholders. Its shares are traded in Bahrain and Paris.

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