Ahli United Bank B.S.C. (AUB) reported a net profit attributable to its equity shareholders of US$ 309.8 million for the quarter ended 31 March 2013. This included an exceptional gain of US$ 212.9 million on the divestiture of its diluted 29.4% stake in Ahli Bank Qatar.
Excluding this non-recurring gain, AUB reported a 12.2% increase in its net profit, which increased from US$ 86.4 million in Q1/2012 to US$ 96.9 million. This also represents a 23.3% improvement over the Q/4-2012 trailing quarter reported profit of US$ 78.6 million. The Basic Earnings per Share was US 5.7 cents, compared to US 1.6 cents achieved in Q1/2012. The resultant adjusted Operating Basic Earnings per share was US 1.8 cents after deducting exceptional gain.
The key driver to these results was the increase in the operating income of the Group from US$ 214.5 million to US$ 224.2 million (+ 4.5%), was the rise in net interest income by 11.0% to US$ 167.4 million (Q1/2012: US$ 150.8 million). Net Interest income includes US$ 4.6 million exceptional gain from early repayment of subordinated debt. With incremental operating revenues and continuing prudent cost management, the operating cost income ratio was contained at 29.9% (YTD Q1 / 2012: 29.5%).
Asset quality continued on a solid footing as reflected by the non-performing loans ratio of 2.3% as at 31 March 2013 (2.4% as at 31 December 2012). The loan loss provision charge increased from US$ 16.4 million to US$ 25.3 million to achieve an overall coverage (including collective impairment provisions) of 158% compared to 150% at 31 December 2012. Overall risk asset provisioning charge declined by US$9.1 million to US$37.0 million during the quarter.
The Group's total assets rose to US$ 31.7 billion (+ 6.2%) since 31 December 2012 driven by a US$3.4 billion (+18.6%) increase in customers' deposits to US$ 21.6 billion as at 31 March 2013. Consequently, the dependence on wholesale funding reduced (-26.0%) during the quarter with inter-bank deposits/borrowing under repurchase agreements down to US$5.2 billion (31 December 2012: US$7.0 billion). Loans portfolio growth (+US$0.3 billion) was managed at 1.9% to reach US$ 16.3 billion at 31 March 2013. The resultant Loans/Total Deposits ratio improved to 60.8% (31 December 2012: 63.5%).
The Group's Operating Return on Average Equity for Q1/2013, excluding the exceptional gain, stood at 14.1%, compared to 13.1% achieved in the first quarter of 2012. Return on Average Assets, on the same basis, was marginally higher at 1.4% for Q1/2013 (Q1/2012: 1.3%).
Although AUB achieved a large exceptional gain from the sale of its ABQ stake, the main highlight of this quarter was the continuing healthy growth trend in our operating net profits which grew by 12.2% reflecting the strength and diversification of the AUB Group business model, said Fahad Al-Rajaan, Chairman, AUB.