UPDATE 1-Jordan's Arab Bank Group Q1 net profit rises 5.4 pct

Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:50am EDT

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AMMAN, April 26 (Reuters) - Jordan-based Arab Bank Group said on Saturday its first-quarter net profit rose 5.4 pct to $216.3 million due to prudent lending policies in a period of regional turmoil.

The bank, one of the Middle East's major financial institutions with a $46.4 billion balance sheet, said in a statement net interest and commissions grew 4 and 8 percent respectively compared with the same period last year.

Chairman Sabih al-Masri said the results showed the bank was "progressing in implementing a strategy of diversifying income streams and concentrating on operating revenues in all the countries we operate."

Arab Bank's chief executive officer Nemeh al-Sabbagh said credit facilities grew by 2.5 pct to $23 billion, with the bank maintaining a high level of liquidity in keeping with prudent credit policies to keep the quality of its lending portfolio.

The bank's loans to deposit ratio stood at 61 percent while its capital adequacy ratio was 14.6 percent at the end of March, Sabbagh said.

"This level of profits shows the ability of the bank to deal with local and regional developments successfully," he added.

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 Erica Billingham and Mark Potter)

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