August 25, 2017 / 4:26 AM / 2 years ago

HK's Bank of East Asia H1 profit more than trebles as costs drop

HONG KONG, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA) posted first-half net profit that more than trebled on Friday, due to a drop in loan impairment losses and operational expenses, as well as a surge in interest income.

Net profit was HK$7.3 billion ($932.99 million) in January-June, versus HK$2.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, the lender said in a statement to Hong Kong’s stock exchange.

Bank of East Asia has survived as an independent lender in a market dominated by global financial institutions HSBC Holdings PLC and Standard Chartered PLC, while deteriorating market conditions has seen several of Hong Kong’s other family-owned banks put up for sale.

But activist investor Elliott Management Corp, which owns over 8 percent of the bank’s outstanding shares, has been agitating for a sale. The U.S. hedge fund has also filed a lawsuit against the bank in protest over a share placement.

The dispute pits the fund founded by billionaire Paul Singer against Bank of East Asia’s chairman and former politician David Li, whose grandfather founded the bank nearly 100 years ago.

Bank of East Asia has said the lawsuit goes against the interests of the bank and its shareholders.

($1 = 7.8243 Hong Kong dollars)

Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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