20 FEBRUARY 2002

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Fimbank registers pre-tax profit of USD$2.471 million

- bank to pay first dividend

First International Merchant Bank announced yesterday that it had generated a pre-tax profit of US$2,471,018 on ordinary activities last year. This is an increase of US$106,654 (4.5 per cent) over that of the previous year. For the first time in the bank’s corporate history, its directors have proposed a dividend of 1c85 per ordinary share at a directors’ meeting held in Kuwait last Saturday.

First International Merchant Bank was listed on the Malta Stock Exchange last June, when shares were issued with a US Dollar denomination. The equity so far is the only one to maintain its issue price, despite adverse market conditions.

Claude L. Roy, the bank’s president, comments, "2001 was an extraordinary year for us, especially given the conditions of the world market. We are fortunate because we are not reliant on one sector for our income – we have fee income and income from interest."

The bank’s total operating income increased by 11 per cent in 2001, with income from fees increasing at 22.4 per cent, or US$708,568 in the same period. Net income from interest was 5 per cent lower than that of 2000. Mr Roy said: "Had interest rates remained at the same level in 2001 as they were in 2000, we would have earned an additional US$940,000.

However, interest rates were cut 11 times in 2001, resulting in an aggregate decrease of 4.75 per cent, the biggest slash taking place after 11 September. That is a factor over which we have no control. Yet we have continued to increase our performance levels despite this."

After the payment of tax and dividends, the balance of profits, amounting to US$1,285,550, will be added to the retained earnings. These now amount to US$6,840,943.

Mr Roy explained "Early last year, the bank’s management outlined a five-year plan. Our goals have been, with few exceptions, successfully accomplished. Our projections for 2002 also appear to be attainable."

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt