UPDATE 1-Jordan's Arab Bank reports small rise in Q1 profits

Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:31am EDT

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AMMAN, April 27 (Reuters) - Jordan-based Arab Bank Group made a net profit of $205.1 million in the first quarter of the year, up from $204.4 million in the same period last year, it said on Saturday.

The bank, one of the Middle East's major financial institutions, which has a $45.6 billion balance sheet spread across 30 countries and five continents, said in a statement it was able to maintain healthy growth in revenues, with operating profits up 7 percent for the quarter.

Bank officials said this was a result of a rise in net interest income and reduced costs.

Chairman Sabih al-Masri said in a statement that the results showed the bank's performance was healthy, "despite the difficult conditions in the region".

Arab Bank's chief executive officer Nemeh al-Sabbagh also said the bank would focus on keeping a high level of liquidity in keeping with its "traditional conservative policy" and had a capital solvency ratio of 15.05 percent at the end of March.

The firm is one of the Arab world's largest privately owned banks with over 20 percent owned by the family of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005. The remainder is mainly held by long-term investors.

Arab Bank also owns 40 percent of Saudi Arabia's Arab National Bank ANB. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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