HK-based Bank of East Asia 2018 profit falls 30 pct as costs rise

HONG KONG, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA) reported on Wednesday a 30 percent drop in its 2018 profit with the previous year’s earnings inflated by divestment of some non-core assets, and as operating costs rose.

BEA, which counts Hong Kong and China as its main markets, posted a profit of HK$6.5 billion ($828.12 million) last year, compared with HK$9.3 billion in the previous year, it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The 2018 profit was higher than the HK$6.2 billion average of 10 analysts’ estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

BEA had recorded a gain of HK$3 billion from sale of some assets in 2017.

The bank’s operating expenses rose by 6.1 percent to HK$8.6 billion, mainly due to an increase in staff costs and expenses incurred for new business initiatives and partnerships in China, it said in the statement.

BEA has survived as an independent bank in a market dominated by HSBC Holdings PLC and Standard Chartered PLC, while deteriorating business conditions have seen several of Hong Kong’s other family-owned firms put up for sale.

$1 = 7.8491 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu