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Lebanon's Byblos Bank profits up close to 3% in 2017

Jan 31

Byblos Bank announced Monday that its net profits at the end of 2017 had increased by 2.91 percent on 2016 to reach $170 million.

“Net profit stood at $170 million, slightly higher than the $165 million posted in 2016 (+2.91 percent), but in line with its [the bank’s] low risk appetite and objective to maintain a strong and healthy loan portfolio in a persisting difficult environment,” the bank said in a statement to the press.

Byblos Bank is one of the five leading banks in Lebanon in terms of profits, deposits and assets.

“Customer deposits stood at $18 billion (+5.3 percent) while net customer loans reached $5.4 billion (+5.2 percent) as at end 2017, leaving the bank with a strong potential to expand its lending portfolio when economic recovery picks up in Lebanon and the overseas markets where it operates,” Byblos Bank’s statement said.

It added that the bank’s return on average assets and return on average common equity stood at 0.78 percent and 9.35 percent respectively.

“Thanks to its proactive and effective management of its sovereign debt, along with its high liquidity levels in both LBP and USD, Byblos Bank’s net interest margin was maintained at about the same 2016 level of 1.44 percent. As a deposit-taking institution looking to continuously grow and diversify its loan portfolio for individuals and businesses, Byblos Bank’s net interest income accounted for more than 67 percent of its operating income,” the statement added.

However, Byblos Bank warned that the newly introduced taxes are expected to reduce the profitability of the Lebanese banking sector.

“The newly introduced double taxation on banks in Lebanon, which aims to help reduce the government’s budget deficit and help it embark on the overdue and much-needed reforms, is expected to shrink the profitability of the banking sector in 2018,” the bank said.

The statement stressed the bank’s strategy has enabled it to maintain acceptable results despite the current political situation in the country.

“The domestic political crisis, during the last quarter of 2017, demonstrated Byblos Bank’s wise strategy for maintaining high liquidity levels to mitigate the effects of unpredictable shocks. Given Lebanon’s conditions, Byblos Bank’s board of directors and management remain fully committed to their conservative strategy by focusing, among others, on maintaining asset quality and capital protection, rather than maximizing return for the short term and engaging in unnecessary risks,” Byblos Bank said.

Byblos Bank is one six Lebanese banks listed on the Beirut Stock Exchange.