The bank has reported a net profit of SR757m ($202m) for the three months to 31 March, a rise of 23 per cent on the SR616m figure for the same period in 2007. It was the fifth quarter of profit growth in a row for Sabb.

John Coverdale, managing director of Sabb, says the bank is continuing to focus its investments on Saudi government bonds, treasury bills and other similar investment products which have protected the bank from the global market turmoil.

The results are in marked contrast to the heavy losses experienced by banks elsewhere in the world.

The bank says customer deposits were SR78.4bn on 31 March, up 31 per cent compared to the same time in 2007. The value of loans to customers was up 56 per cent to SR66.6bn.

Coverdale adds that the increase in loans reflects the underlying strength of the Saudi economy and the increased demand for project finance from businesses.

The bank’s investment portfolio totalled SR23.7bn, compared with SR17.6bn this time in 2007. The total value of assets rose sharply to SR106bn, up SR26.9bn over the year.

The bank’s operating income was SR1.2bn for the quarter, up 16 per cent on the same period in 2007. The earnings per share was SR2.02, up 22.8 per cent on the SR1.64 figure for the first quarter of 2007.