HK-based Bank of East Asia's first-half profit tumbles 75%

HONG KONG, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia Ltd (BEA) posted a 75% slump in first-half net profit after increased impairment losses in mainland China because of a downturn in commercial property markets outside China’s top cities.

BEA, which counts Hong Kong and China as its main markets, posted a net profit of HK$1 billion ($127.50 million) for the Jan-June period, versus HK$3.99 billion a year earlier, the lender said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

It had previously issued a profit warning for the half year, saying it expected to write down four loans with a nominal value of HK$6.2 billion, and take a loss, after tax, on the loans of between HK$2.5 billion and HK$3 billion.

The bank has survived as an independent lender in a market that is dominated by HSBC Holdings, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Standard Chartered, while several of Hong Kong’s other family-owned firms have been put up for sale amid deteriorating business conditions.

The business conditions have been hit further in recent months amid protests in the Chinese-controlled territory. ($1 = 7.8432 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Alun John and Felix Tam; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman)