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Middle East

Israeli banks likely to resume dividends in 2021, regulator says

1 minute read

Israeli banks will likely be able to resume dividend payouts later this year, the country's banking regulator said on Wednesday, expressing cautious optimism that the coronavirus pandemic may be largely over for banks.

Yair Avidan, the supervisor of banks at the Bank of Israel, said a decision on when banks can again distribute dividends suspended at the outset of the crisis last year has not yet been made. He told reporters that payouts would likely start at 15% to 20% of net profit, half the amount from before the pandemic.

At the same time, share buybacks are not likely to be approved until 2022, he said.

"We are quite optimistic but we are still conservative," Avidan said, referring to coronavirus infections which have plunged to just 432 active cases in all of Israel in the wake of a rapid vaccine rollout.

This month, most Israeli banks have reported big increases in first-quarter profit due to the unwinding of large loan default provisions made in 2020 to cope with the crisis.

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