Lebanon's Bank Audi profit down 5.5% after Turkish launch

Reuters, Monday 21 Oct 2013

The newly launched Lebanese Audi Bank in Turkey contributes to its drop in nine-month net profit, expected to offset neighbours' faltering operations

Lebanon's Bank Audi reported a 5.5 percent drop in its net profit for the first nine months of 2013 in comparison to the same period last year.

The $261 million in net earnings, compared to $277 million for previous year, were weighed down by the costs of launching its new Turkish subsidiary Odeabank, it said on Sunday.

"This performance was realised despite the launch of the fully owned subsidiary in Turkey encompassing a network of 20 branches in 11 months, with the subsequent normal time lag between immediate operating expenses and expected revenues," it said.

However, it said the addition of Odeabank raised customer deposits by $2.7 billion by end-September, a growth of 9.9 percent.

The addition of the Turkish operations appears to have offset falls in neighbouring Syria, torn by civil war, and in Egypt, which is struggling economically after two years of political tumult.

The bank has said that it aims to become an active player in Turkish banking, one of the few promising sectors in a region hit by the turmoil of the Arab uprisings.

Audi aims to set up a network of 100 branches in Turkey, which would make its operations there second only to its presence in Lebanon.

The bank said it would continue to try to expand its operations and even cited expectations that regional instability, fanned by anti-government protests across the region, may get better.

"On the basis of a potentially improved stability in the political and economic environment over the medium term in Lebanon and the MENA region, Bank Audi remains committed to its regional expansion strategy by extending its presence to new countries," it said.

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