(Adds details, figures from paragraph 3)
BEIRUT, April 18 Lebanon's Bank Audi reported a 9.5 percent drop in first-quarter net profit to $85.5 million from a year ago, weighed down by the costs of launching Turkish subsidiary Odeabank.
Adjusting the figures to exclude the impact of Odeabank, "Bank Audi would have recorded a net earnings growth of 5.9 percent, despite challenging domestic and regional operating conditions," the bank said on Thursday.
Customer deposits grew by $1.9 billion to $28.7 billion as the addition of the Turkish operations more than offset falls in neighbouring Syria, torn by civil war, and in Egypt, which is struggling economically after two years of political tumult.
The bank said it aimed to become an active player in Turkish banking, one of the few promising sectors in a region hit by the turmoil of the Arab uprisings.
Audi aims to set up a network of 100 branches in Turkey, which would make its operations there second only to its presence in Lebanon.
Consolidated net loans rose $1.2 billion to $11.6 billion, Audi said, while consolidated assets increased $2 billion to $33.3 billion. (Reporting by Dominic Evans; editing by Jane Baird)