Interview with G.M. Mr Elias Alouf, by Al Iktissad Wal Aamal - April 2019

BSL BANK’s 2018 results reflect the Bank's wise strategy in terms of assets and liabilities.

While the Bank’s growth rates exceeded the average of the banking sector in 2018, the pursuit of a steady growth is focused on building a solid customers base relying on an efficient and high quality service.

The figures and growth rates indicate that BSL BANK's management is keen to enhance operational revenue. This strategy clearly stands out in the Bank's lending activity, particularly in 2017 and 2018. The Bank’s overall lending increased by 11 percent compared to the end of 2017, while lending in the banking sector has fallen for the second year in a row.

Retail loans rose by 17.8 percent. "These loans focused on medium-sized housing loans; we have adopted a flexible interest policy for loans ranging from 10 to 15 years. Despite the absence of subsidized loans, we have achieved a growth rate in the housing loan portfolio that may be among the highest in the sector. We have also launched a very attractive car loan directed towards family cars."

Corporate loans grew by 4.8 percent. This is mainly due to the replacement of real estate loans with baskets for the trade sector, especially raw materials. Mr. Alouf said this was due to the drop in consumption in several sectors.

Despite the remarkable growth in loans, the ratio of total loans to total deposits increased slightly from 22.7 percent in 2017 to 23.5 percent in 2018. This reflects a high liquidity rate and BSL BANK’s ability to expand its banking activity.

At the same time, the Bank maintained the good quality of its loans portfolio, and the ratio of net doubtful loans was a very healthy 2.35 percent of total gross loans.

On the other hand, customers’ deposits increased by 7.3%. "As far as we could go, we have avoided the deposits’ war that took place last year. We have adopted very reasonable interest rates and we have sought to reduce the concentration of deposits to mitigate risks and to build a stable customers base who rely not on interest rates but on the level of our services."

Total shareholders' equity increased by 5.6 percent and reached LBP 184.5 billion at the end of 2018.

The Bank achieved a net profit of LBP 16 billion, an increase of 30 percent compared to 2017, and a return on average equity of 9.17 percent.

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