SGBL ranking rises to third in terms of assets in 2018

The SGBL bank in Beirut, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: SGBL became the third largest bank in Lebanon in terms of assets and deposits and the fourth in profitability at the end of 2018, according to Alpha report. The report, which focused on the performance of the 16 largest banks in the country last year, pointed out that SGBL assets stood at $25.952 billion while its customer deposits reached $18.705 billion.

As for profits, SGBL recorded a net income of $198 million in 2018.

SGBL’s equity grew by 4.2 percent to $1.921 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018, against $1.844 billion at the end of 2017, while deposits jumped by 13.4 percent year-on-year to $18.705 billion at end of 2018 from $16.488 billion in December 2017.

In 2018, SGBL moved forward on its global expansion plans with the acquisition of Banque Richelieu France, Banque Richelieu Monaco, and Richelieu Gestion. The addition of La Compagnie Financiere Richelieu expands SGBL Group’s global footprint and enhances its powerful product offering in Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates.

The report said that Bank Audi remained the leading bank in terms of assets and deposits followed by BLOM Bank.

But BLOM was ranked the leading bank in terms of profits after recording a net income of $510 million in 2018.

The Alpha Report, outlining the performance and positioning of the first 16 banks in Lebanon with deposits exceeding $2 billion, was issued by Bankdata Financial Services. The report added that the net profits all Alpha banks dropped by 5.5 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

“Despite cost control efforts on behalf of Alpha banks, the overall tough operating conditions, as reflected by the net contraction in lending portfolios last year and the adverse effects of domestic tax hikes, lead to a 5.5 percent contraction in net profits in 2018. As such, Alpha banks posted declining profitability ratios, with an annualized return on assets ratio of 0.91 percent and an annualized return on equity ratio of 10.31 percent , declining respectively by 14 basis points and 95 bps relative to 2017,” the report said.

The report said that the year 2018 saw an 11.3 percent growth in the consolidated activity of Alpha banks, almost double their growth in the previous year mainly driven by Banque Du Liban’s financial engineering operations, with their total assets reaching $261.5 billion at end-December 2018.

It also saw a rise in their branch network by seven branches to 1,223 branches at end-2018, along with a contraction in their staff count by 199 employees, translating noticeable efficiency measures introduced.

“In sum, there is no doubt that Lebanese banks in general and Alpha banks in particular have gone through a difficult year in 2018, amid domestic political tensions and the lack of a government formation for the better part of the year, in addition to market pressures in foreign markets of presence. Nonetheless, confidence in the banking system and the sticky deposit base, coupled with banks’ sound liquidity at hand, have allowed the sector to withstand difficult times,” the report said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 23, 2019, on page 4.




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