Lebanese banks' operations in Syria suffered a setback during the first half of the year 2014 despite managing to record net profits amid the prevailing hostilities in the country, according to Credit Libanais' Weekly Market Watch.
More particularly, Lebanese banks' subsidiaries (with the exception of Fransabank Syria due to the unavailability of data), namely Bank Audi Syria, Bank of Syria & Overseas, Byblos Bank Syria, Bank BEMO Saudi Fransi, Sharq Bank, and Syria Gulf Bank recorded a sizeable SYP 6.35 billion annual contraction in net profits to around SYP 2.89 billion ($19.27 million) in the first half of the year 2014, down from SYP 9.24 billion over the same period in 2013.
Bank Audi Syria recorded the highest profit figure ($9.08 million), followed by Bank BEMO Saudi Fransi ($8.78 million), Bank of Syria & Overseas ($3.58 million), Sharq Bank ($2.52 million), Byblos Bank Syria ($1.09 million), and Syria Gulf Bank (loss of around $5.79 million). When applying end of year SYP/USD exchange rate for foreign currency translation purposes, the combined profits of all Syrian subsidiaries of Lebanese banks show some $70.85 million year-on-year drop.
On the balance sheet front, the consolidated assets of all six aforementioned banks came in 8.68 per cent higher during the first half of the year 2014 at SYP 388.69 billion ($2.59 billion), with the share of Bank BEMO Saudi Fransi of the combined assets standing at 33.19 per cent, that of Bank of Syria & Overseas being 26.40 per cent, Bank Audi Syria amassing 14.75 per cent, Byblos Bank Syria controlling a stake of 11.94 per cent, the share of Syria Gulf Bank reaching 8.77 per cent, and that of Sharq Bank settling at 4.95 per cent. In addition, and upon conversion into the U.S. Dollar at the prevailing end of year exchange rate, the consolidated balance sheet of all six banks depicts a 2.78 per cent annual expansion in total assets. On the capitalization front, the equity of all six banks advanced 8.19 per cent in the first half of the year 2014 to SYP 37.14 billion ($247.67 million), up from SYP 34.32 billion in the year 2013.