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Saudi British Fourth-Quarter Net Jumps 65%; Meets Estimates

Saudi British Bank, the lender 40 percent owned by HSBC Holdings Plc, reported a 65 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, matching analysts’ estimates, as operating expenses declined.

Net income rose to 655 million riyals ($175 million) from 397 million riyals a year earlier, the Riyadh-based lender said in a statement to the Saudi bourse today. The mean estimate of seven analysts was for a profit of 654.4 million riyals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabian banks may benefit from a pickup in lending as the biggest Arab economy invests in infrastructure and industrial projects. The government forecast a budget surplus of 12 billion riyals this year after King Abdullah announced a $130 billion spending plan last year to build homes and reduce unemployment.

Al-Rajhi Bank, the kingdom’s largest publicly traded lender by market value, may report an 11 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit to 1.84 billion riyals, according to the mean estimate of seven analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Saudi Hollandi Bank, partly owned by ABN Amro Holding NV, posted a 2.7 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

Saudi British said profit rose “because of a decrease in operating expenses.” Fourth-quarter operating income climbed 0.5 percent to 1.12 billion riyals, while net special commission income was unchanged at 730 million riyals.

Saudi British shares dropped 1 percent to 40.90 riyals in Riyadh yesterday, valuing the lender at 30.7 billion riyals. The stock gained 1 percent last year, compared with a 13 percent decline in the Tadawul All Share Bank Index.

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