Ahli United Bank B.S.C. (AUB) reported a net profit attributable to its equity shareholders of US$ 172.1 million for Q4/2019 which represents a 1.7% improvement over the Q4/2018 reported profit of US$ 169.3 million. AUB reported a net profit attributable to its equity shareholders of US$ 730.5 million for the year ended 31 December 2019, an increase of 4.7% as compared to US$ 697.5 million achieved in 2018. The Basic and Diluted Earnings per Share in 2019 was US 7.9 cents (+3.9%), compared to US 7.6 cents in 2018 (EPS: US 1.8 cents in Q4/2019 versus US 1.7 cents in Q4/2018). Comprehensive income attributable to the owners of the bank for Q4/2019 was 38.5% higher at US$ 194.5 million compared to US$ 140.5 million for Q4/2018. Comprehensive income attributable to the owners of the bank for year ended 31 December 2019 was US$ 772.3 million (31 December 2018: US$ 662.5 million) an increase of 16.6% over the prior year.
The excellent financial performance for 2019 continues to reflect the sustained benefits arising from AUB’s diversified business model, robust risk management framework and judicious business driven operating culture centred on maximising prudent and sustainable returns within a disciplined “intelligent spend” cost culture.
Despite the very low prevailing average interest rate environment and overall weak market conditions, net operating income increased (+5.1%) from US$ 1,124.3 million in 2018 to US$ 1,181.1 million in 2019 (Q4/2019: US$ 301.0 million versus Q4/2018: US$ 279.1 million). Net interest income improved to US$ 951.5 million in 2019 compared to US$ 940.5 million in 2018 driven by growth in average loans and investments. Increases in net interest income, trading and investment income and others resulted in a rise in operating income to US$ 1,235.5 million during 2019 compared to US$ 1,210.6 million in 2018 (Q4/2019: US$ 316.2 million versus Q4/2018: US$ 303.5 million). Cost to income ratio was controlled at 28.6% (2018: 27.1%) reflecting the consistent implementation of AUB’s structured cost discipline and intelligent spend approach.
Solid asset quality levels were sustained with an unchanged non-performing loans ratio of 1.9% (31 December 2018: 1.9%) with specific provision coverage ratio of 85.9% (31 December 2018: 85.5%). Coverage levels were assisted by focused asset recovery efforts during the year. Provision coverage levels are calculated on a cash provision basis excluding the value of the additional significant non-cash (real estate and securities) collateral available against non-performing loans.
The Group’s equity attributable to owners at 31 December 2019 increased by 9.1 % to US$ 4.3 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 3.9 billion). The Group’s Return on Average Equity achieved for 2019 was 17.7% (2018: 18.1%).
The Group’s total assets at 31 December 2019 increased by 13.4% to US$ 40.3 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 35.5 billion). This is attributable to a 6.3% growth in the loans and advances portfolio to US$ 20.7 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 19.5 billion) and growth in the non-trading investments portfolio to US$ 9.1 billion (31 December 2018: US$ 7.6 billion) as part of an overall strategy to further balance-sheet diversification and to enhance in-built liquidity sources while expanding risk adjusted returns on a prudent basis. Asset growth was funded from an increase in customer deposits (+US$ 1.9 billion) and through repo borrowings (+US$ 1.1 billion). Return on Average Assets was at 2.1% for 2019 (2018: 2.2%).
The Board of Directors has recommended a distribution comprising of a cash dividend of US cents 5.0 per share (2018: US cents 5.0 per share) together with a bonus ordinary share issue of 10% (2018: 10%).
Mr. Meshal AbdulAziz Alothman, AUB Chairman, commented: “AUB has achieved record results and sustained its excellent core performance for 2019 driven by its well-managed business model based on diversification and cross border flows seeking the effective deployment of capital resources across the AUB Group’s markets in a prudent and profitable manner. Our results are attributable to the clear defined vision of the bank and to the exemplary execution of its business strategies by its highly competent and dedicated management and staff.”