The bank also said that profits for the first nine months of the year were down 6.3 per cent to SR3.62bn after a decline in quarterly revenue in the first and second quarters of 2008.

However, the bank’s asset management income rose 22 per cent during the first nine months of 2008, and other fees and commissions were up 48 per cent.

At the end of 2007 Samba reported a 2 per cent growth in fourth-quarter profits, although this failed to lift overall profits, which declined 7.3 per cent over the course of the full year.

In contrast, Banque Saudi Fransi, the fifth-largest bank in the kingdom, says it made a profit of SR729m in the third quarter of 2008, an increase of 11.6 per cent, which it attributed to a rise in loans.