TEL AVIV, March 20 Bank Hapoalim,
Israel's largest lender, reported flat quarterly profit as
higher income from fees offset a slight drop in financing
Hapoalim on Thursday said it posted fourth-quarter net
profit of 651 million shekels ($188 million), compared with 652
million a year earlier but above expectations of 607 million
shekels in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Net financing income slipped to 2.07 billion shekels from
2.11 billion, while it had a gain in its provision for credit
losses of 59 million shekels compared with a charge of 54
Fees and other income increased to 1.39 billion shekels from
Hapoalim's core Tier 1 capital ratio to risk-weighted assets
rose to 9.4 percent at the end of 2013 from 8.9 percent at the
end of 2012.
The bank's board approved a dividend of 106 million shekels
for the fourth quarter, to complete a distribution of 15 percent
of 2013 annual net profit, totalling 382 million shekels.
"We believe in our ability to produce a low double-digit
return on equity in the medium to long-term. This target
reflects the bank's risk appetite in light of changes in the
economic environment and ever-increasing competition," Chairman
Yair Seroussi said.
Zion Kenan, Hapoalim's chief executive, said that during
2013 the bank improved the quality of its credit portfolio by
tightening risk management and reducing portfolio concentration.
($1 = 3.4623 Israeli Shekels)
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)