March 31, 2014 / 5:27 AM / in 4 years

Israel's Bank Leumi moves to profit in Q4, misses estimates

TEL AVIV, March 31 (Reuters) - Bank Leumi, Israel’s second-largest lender, said on Monday it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, helped by a drop in credit loss provisions and higher financing income.

Leumi recorded a quarterly net profit of 348 million shekels ($99.4 million), compared with a loss of 259 million a year earlier when the bank took a charge related to a U.S. tax investigation. This was below analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll of 458 million shekels.

The bank’s results were pushed back from an initial date of March 20 due to a delay in reporting by conglomerate Israel Corp , in which it holds a key stake.

Leumi posted a 1.5 percent rise in net interest income to 1.81 billion shekels, while its credit loss charge fell nearly 60 percent to 155 million.

The bank said it would reduce its workforce by 300 in 2014 as part of an efficiency plan to lay off 1,000 employees between 2012 and 2014.

Its core Tier I capital to risk-weighted assets ratio rose to 9.43 percent at the end of 2013 from 8.55 percent at the end of 2012.

$1 = 3.5000 Israeli Shekels Reporting by Tova Cohen and Steven Scheer

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