On 31 January, another private bank, Tunisian-French Union Bancaire pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (UBCI), announced a 59 per cent fall in profits to TD 7.5 million ($5.8 million) for 2002. Gross income also fell, to TD 92.1 million ($69.8 million) from TD 97.3 million ($73.7 million) in 2001, and total assets shrank to TD 999 million ($757 million) from TD 1,091 million ($827 million). The poor performance was blamed on a fall in loan demand due to the economic conditions, and an increase in provisioning. UBCI is half owned by France’s BNP Paribasand half by Tunisian investors.

Average profits for Tunisia’s ten biggest banks fell 8.3 per cent in the first half of 2002, and the decline is expected to have worsened for the full year.