Union de Banques Arabes & Francaises (UBAF) recorded a 21 per cent increase in net profits in 1997 to FF 100.7 million ($16.5 million) despite exposure to the east Asian markets, according to headline figures published on 8 April.

Net banking income edged up by just 1 per cent to FF 387 million ($63.3 million), due in part to the depreciation of Asian currencies against the French franc which cost the bank FF 16.5 million ($2.7 million). Income from commissions and documentary credits was higher, while workforce reductions contributed to a 5 per cent reduction in general expenses. UBAF established provisions totalling FF 231 million ($37.8 million) against the economic crisis in some Asian countries.

Total consolidated assets were up 10 per cent to FF 20,000 million ($3,273 million) against FF 18,200 million ($2,979 million) a year earlier, an increase which the bank attributed to the appreciation of the dollar against the franc.

The bank said in a statement: ‘The outlook for 1998 continues to be favourable, and the bank is expected to achieve at least the same level of net income as in 1997.’

UBAF is 44 per cent owned by France’s Credit Lyonnais. The rest of its shares are held by Arab banks. The bank’s core activities are trade and export credit agency finance and trading in Arab debt. UBAF has a strong presence in the trade finance market in east Asia, where it operates through branches in South Korea, Singapore and Japan.