UPDATE 1-Saudi Samba net profit rises 2.3 percent, beating forecasts

Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:38am EDT

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RIYADH Oct 13 (Reuters) - Saudi's Samba Financial Group said on Saturday its third-quarter net profit rose 2.3 percent over last year, beating analyst expectations.

Saudi banks are benefiting from expansionary fiscal policies, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand, according to a July 2 report from Deutsche Bank.

However, results this quarter have been mixed, with Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi, the third, fourth and fifth largest lenders, missing analyst forecasts.

Bank lending to the private sector grew by 14 percent in August over the same month last year, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA - central bank), said in September.

A report by Credit Suisse in August predicted Saudi banks should deliver double-digit earnings growth for the next three years thanks to higher credit volumes.

Samba, the kingdom's second-largest listed lender by market value said in a bourse statement that it made 1.16 billion riyals ($310 million) compared with 1.14 billion riyals in the three months ending September 30 2011.

Ten analysts surveyed by Reuters forecast the firm to post, on average, a net profit of 1.13 billion riyals.

The bank attributed its performance to increased operating income without elaborating.

Total operating income for the third-quarter dropped 1 percent on the year to 1.7 billion riyals, while profit from special commissions grew 6 percent to 1.12 billion riyals.

The bank's loans portfolio jumped 11 percent to 98 billion riyals. (Reporting By Angus McDowall; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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