BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Ltd., the second-largest Hong Kong-based bank by market value, said 2009 profit more than quadrupled after it wrote back impairment charges investments.
Net income at the Hong Kong unit of Bank of China Ltd. rose to HK$13.7 billion ($1.77 billion), or HK$1.30, from HK$3.34 billion, or 31.6 Hong Kong cents, a year earlier, the bank said in a filing to the city’s stock exchange today. Profit was higher than the average HK$12.5 billion estimate of 12 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.
BOC Hong Kong and Hong Kong rivals such as Hang Seng Bank Ltd. have seen lending profitability contract as they cut mortgage rates to the lowest in at least 20 years. BOC Hong Kong had the biggest market share in new mortgages in February with 20 percent, according to mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services.
The bank posted an impairment write-back on securities investment of HK$1.3 billion in 2009, compared with a charge of HK$11.9 billion a year earlier, according to today’s statement.
Net interest margin at BOC Hong Kong fell to 1.69 percent at the end of last year from 2 percent a year earlier.
Loan profitability at Hong Kong banks dropped to the lowest on record in the fourth quarter as the city’s central bank sought to limit risks for lenders by advising them to price home loans above a given level, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said yesterday.
Hang Seng Bank, which reported profit earlier this month, is the biggest Hong Kong lender by market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
BOC Hong Kong’s shares fell 0.2 percent to HK$18.32 at the 4 p.m. close, before earnings were announced.
--Editors: Joost Akkermans, Philip Lagerkranser