||Net Profit($ mn)
|| ROACE (%)
The un-audited financial results of the four largest listed Lebanese banks — BLOM, Audi, Byblos, and Bank of Beirut (BoB) — show that they have maintained their steady performance in 2018, despite the economic slowdown, higher taxes, and continued political paralysis in Lebanon. Aggregate operational net profit of the four banks increased to $1385.68 million in 2018, growing by 4.68% from 2017.
On an individual basis, BLOM Bank attained the highest level of net profit at $510.42 million, growing by 5.18%. Bank Audi came second with net profit at $500.55 million, up by 7.92%; whereas Bank of Beirut came third with net profit at $210.19 million, up by 2.83%. Byblos Bank’s net profit ranked fourth, falling by 3.29% to $164.52 million.
The profit performance of the four banks can also be seen by looking at profitability ratios, namely the rate of return on average common equity (ROACE) and on average assets (ROAA), which measure the productivity to generate earnings from equity and assets. BLOM Bank recorded the highest ROACE at 16.49% and the highest ROAA at 1.47%. The three other banks followed, with Bank Audi’s ROACE at 14.00% and ROAA at 1.10%; Bank of Beirut’s ROACE at 13.08% and ROAA at 1.13%; and Byblos Bank’s ROACE at 8.76% and ROAA at 0.70%. BLOM Bank’s effective performance can be attributed to its highly managerial and operational efficiency. This is demonstrated by BLOM Bank’s cost-to-income ratio of 35.30%, the lowest of all four, followed by 43.37% for Bank of Beirut, 48.05% for Audi, and 51.20% for Byblos
Growth was not limited to profits only, since it was also registered in most key balance sheet items. For Audi, its assets stood at $47.22 billion, rising by 7.94%, its loan portfolio was $13.28 billion, decreasing by 18.60%, its deposits were $31.99 billion, down by 4.35%, and its shareholder’s equity fell by 7.25% to $3.88 billion. BLOM reported $36.74 billion in assets, growing by 12.91%, its loan portfolio fell by 4.98% to $7.16 billion, while its deposits stood at $27.21 billion, up by 2.17%, and its shareholder’s equity rose by 8.75% to $3.26 billion. Assets at Byblos reached $25.00 billion, growing at 10.32%, and its loan portfolio decreased by 0.12% to $5.44 billion, while its deposits were $18.46 billion, higher by 2.58%, and its shareholder’s equity increased to $1.92 billion, up by 2.23%. As to Bank of Beirut, its assets rose by 2.91% to $18.90 billion, with its loan portfolio increasing by 0.90% to $5.73billion, its deposits rising by 0.55% to $13.41 billion, and its shareholder’s equity increasing by 0.03%% to $2.35 billion.
These results show the top four listed Lebanese banks’ ability to sustain reasonable growth and financial strength through excellent management and a conservative business model. As a result, they reconfirm Lebanese banks’position as the leading financial pillar in the country and the backbone of the economy. They also look forward to better operating conditions in 2019 with the formation of a new, reforming government and the onset of the financial and economic support from the “Cedre” conference.