Ithmaar Bank profit surges 91%

(AFP)

Bahrain-based Ithmaar Bank yesterday said first-quarter net profit surged 91 per cent to a record $59.3 million (Dh217m) as it continued its expansion into new markets.

The investment bank's operating profit nearly doubled from $32.5m to $62.9m. Earnings per share increased to 1.51 cents per share, compared to 1.07 cents per share in the corresponding period last year. "The bank has made substantial progress across the board, including in its private equity, fund management and advisory services," said Chief Executive Michael P Lee.

At the end of the quarter, the bank's total assets stood at $4.5 billion, up 10 per cent from the year ended December 31, 2007. Funds under management also recorded a steep hike of 18 per cent, rising by $300m to $2bn at the end of the first quarter.

"Our flagship subsidiaries and associates, which, together with Ithmaar Bank itself, comprise the Ithmaar banking group, all did remarkably well in the first quarter. Our flagship subsidiary, Shamil Bank, now wholly owned by Ithmaar Bank following a share exchange late last year, has continued to perform strongly," said Co-Chief Executive Mohamed Hussain.

"It has launched several new products this year, including funds investing in real estate in Turkey and in Central and Eastern Europe, and its Shamil Jawaher offering, which is designed to offer profits that are better than those offered by traditional savings schemes.

"In the first quarter, our real estate development arm, Ithmaar Development Company, began implementing its $3.3bn portfolio of projects, beginning with Dilmunia, its $1.6bn 'health island' project, which is set to turn Bahrain into a centre for wellness and health tourism. Reclamation has started on the landmark project, which will be located off the north east coast of Bahrain," said Hussain.

The first quarter saw the bank list on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. In February, Ithmaar announced its acquisition of 19.1 per cent of the issued and paid up share capital of BBK, a leading Bahrain-based commercial bank, for BHD123m (Dh1.1bn).

Also during the first quarter, Ithraa Capital, an associate of Ithmaar Bank, received licences from the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority to set up an investment bank in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ithmaar Bank had earlier announced a record 2007 consolidated net profit of $188.3m.
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