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RIYADH, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Banque Saudi Fransi, the lender part-owned by Credit Agricole, posted a 12.9-percent drop in its third-quarter net profit that missed analysts forecasts, it said in a bourse statement on Wednesday.
The kingdom's fifth largest bank by market capitalisation said it made 662 million riyals ($177 million) in the quarter compared with 760 million riyals in the three months ending September 30 2011.
Eight analysts surveyed by Reuters forecast the firm to post, on average, a net profit of 775 million riyals.
The bank attributed its drop in profits to higher operating expenses.
Total operating income for the third-quarter was 1.2 billion riyals, a rise of 4.8 percent from the previous year.
Profit from special commissions grew 2.2 percent over last year to 826 million riyals.
The bank's loan portfolio grew 13.3 percent over last year to 102 billion riyals by the end of the quarter.
Saudi Fransi priced a $750 million five-year Islamic bond in May, attracting orders worth $4 billion. [ID:ID:nL5E8GFA99]
Saudi Arabian banks are benefiting from expansionary fiscal policies, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand, according to a July 2 report from Deutsche Bank.
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. (Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Dinesh Nair)