Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's largest bank, has finally succeeded in getting on top of its historic legacy of non-performing loans (NPLs), figures announced by chairman and managing director Abdullah Salim Bajamal on 5 February show. Sources close to the bank say that this achievement will open the way for the flotation of the bank's shares on the Saudi stock market within the next two years.
Bajamal said that net operating profits before provisions were SR 2,300 million ($613 million) in 2001, compared with SR 1,620 million ($432 million) the previous year. The profits for both years have been retained to strengthen the balance sheet. One result of this is that the ratio of provisions to NPLs has now reached 102 per cent, compared with 87.5 per cent in 2000, Bajamal said. Shareholders' equity grew by 41 per cent to SR 8,521 million ($2,275 million).
Gross operating revenue rose by 20.6 per cent over the year, despite the depressed international economic environment and the considerable fall in interest rates. Non-interest income rose by 7 per cent over the year, and retail operations were boosted by an expansion of the automated teller machine network by 118 to reach 621 machines, and increased telephone banking activities. Some two-thirds of the aggregated 56.4 million transactions undertaken over the year were executed by way of electronic distribution, leading to sharp reductions in costs.
The bank's total assets rose by 2.4 per cent to reach SR 99,500 million ($26,531 million). Total loans rose by 4.8 per cent to SR 38,800 million ($10,346 million), and deposits increased by 4.6 per cent to SR 78,400 million ($20,905 million).
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