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GCC banking sector sees a good year after profits surge 40% to hit $35bn

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RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council’s banking sector profits recorded a 40 percent surge to hit $35 billion in 2021, according to a report by investment company Kamco.

Nevertheless, profits remain below pre-pandemic levels of $37 billion in 2019.

The surge in profits is mainly attributed to an increase in total bank revenue alongside a decline in loan loss provisions.

This comes as total bank revenues increase by 6.9 percent to reach a record $90 billion during the period. 

This is mainly due to a growth of 17.6 percent in non-interest income as well as a minor additional growth of 2.3 percent in net interest income.

As for loan loss provisions, they have plunged by over 25 percent to reach $14.9 billion in 2021, down from $20.4 billion in 2020. 

Yet, loan loss provision levels remain higher when compared to the average of $9.1 billion in the ten years prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.

In the final quarter of 2021 alone growth in lending slowed to a three-quarter low of 1.2 percent growth to reach $1.7 trillion. 

Customer deposits too decelerated with a growth of 1.2 percent to reach $2 trillion. Accordingly, the aggregate GCC banking sector’s loan to deposit ratio slipped 10 basis points to reach a level of 79.9 percent, reflecting a five-quarter low.

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