April 29, 2019 / 9:42 AM / a month ago

Bank of China first quarter profit up 4 percent, net interest margin drops

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bank of China is seen in Rome, Italy April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Bank of China Ltd (BOC), the country’s fourth-largest bank by assets, posted on Monday a 4 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, missing estimates.

BOC, which has the largest global network of branches among Chinese lenders, said net profit for the first three months of 2019 grew to 50.97 billion yuan (£5.85 billion)from 49.0 billion yuan a year earlier.

The growth rate missed the 4.7 percent average of three analyst estimates compiled by Reuters.

BOC’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratio stayed at 1.42 percent at end-March, unchanged from three months earlier. The lender reported total outstanding NPLs of 173.08 billion yuan at the end of March.

Its net interest margin (NIM), a gauge of bank profitability, narrowed to 1.82 percent as of end-March from 1.90 percent at the end of 2018.

In a separate filing on Monday, BOC said its chairman Chen Siqing had resigned. Reuters reported last week Chen had been tapped to lead Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the world’s largest lender by assets.

BOC was the first bank to be granted regulatory approval to issue perpetual bonds in January, coming at a time big Chinese banks are running low on capital to meet global standards. The bond is a type of security that does not have a fixed maturity.

Reporting by Cheng Leng in BEIJING and Shu Zhang in SINGAPORE; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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