Saudi Fransi hit by impairment rise

Saudi Fransi hit by impairment rise
Banque Saudi Fransi shares fell by 3.1 percent after a rise in impairments led to a drop in profits. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 04 February 2019

Saudi Fransi hit by impairment rise

Saudi Fransi hit by impairment rise

LONDON: Banque Saudi Fransi shares fell by 3.1 percent on Sunday after a rise in impairments led to a drop in profits.
The increase in impairments was the main factor in a 6.4 percent fall in profit last year to SR3.31 billion ($882.56 million), the Riyadh-based lender said in a filing to the Tadawul.
Overall operating expenses spiked by more than 14 percent last year. “This increase in total operating expenses was primarily due to higher impairment charge for credit losses and for other financial assets,” the bank said in the statement.
However, the credit losses were partially offset by a reduction in other operating expenses at the bank, including rent, salaries and administrative costs.
Impairments for credit losses jumped by 69.5 percent over the quarter to SR878 million. The increase was even more pronounced over the year as total impairments rose by more than 80 percent to SR1.2 billion.
While successive US interest rate rises have helped regional lenders boost their interest income on loans in the past year, they are also coming under pressure from a weaker oil price and regional economic slowdown that is hurting many of their customers.
A wave of banking sector consolidation is underway in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia as lenders seek to trim costs
in response to changing economic realities.
Saudi Arabia’s biggest lender, National Commercial Bank, revealed in December that it was in takeover talks with Riyad Bank.
Meanwhile, in the UAE, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank have also agreed a three-way merger, creating the third-largest bank in the country.
Despite the tougher economic conditions across the region, some analysts remain upbeat on the performance of the banking sector in Saudi Arabia.
“The challenges for Saudi banks in 2019 include growing loan books outside of retail mortgages; containing any increase in cost of funds if oil prices remain weak; driving cost efficiency through digitization; and countering competition from digital-payment platforms,” Aqib Mehboob, an analyst at Saudi Fransi Capital in Riyadh, told Bloomberg last month.
“The SABB-Alawwal merger and potential NCB and Riyad Bank merger may drive other banks to evaluate opportunities to gain scale,” he said.