RIYADH, May 2 (Reuters) - National Commercial Bank (NCB), Saudi Arabia’s largest lender, on Wednesday reported a 10.5 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, above analysts’ forecasts as bad debt charges fell and fees rose.
The bank’s net profit of 2.99 billion riyals ($797 million) in the three months to March 31, was up from 2.70 billion riyals in the same period of 2017, it said in a statement.
SICO Bahrain had forecast NCB would make a quarterly profit of 2.44 billion riyals and Arqaam Capital had estimated a net profit of 2.66 billion riyals.
Deposits at the bank, majority-owned by the state, dropped 1.5 percent year on year to 309 billion riyals at the end of March, continuing a decline seen in the first quarter of 2017 and 2016.
Loans and advances at the end of March stood at 253 billion riyals, down 0.6 percent on a year earlier. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Tom Arnold and Saeed Azhar. Editing by Jane Merriman)