Big Bank

Mar 26, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s state-run Bank of Ceylon profits have increased 19.2 percent to 3.87 billion rupees in 2008, helped by strong fee income despite interest expenses rising.

The bank said its foreign branches in London, Maldives and Indian had performed well in 2008.

“Our London branch has come into profits after 10 years,” chairman Gamini Wickramasinghe said.

Strong Fees

The group’s interest income grew 17.0 percent to 51.5 billion rupees, interest expense grew 21.9 percent to 37.0 billion, but net interest income grew at a slower rate of 6.2 percent to 14.5 billion rupees.

“Our funding costs are also taking a toll as you know the rates have been quite high,” the bank’s chief financial officer Saliya Rajakaruna said.

“We have been unable to pass on some of the inflationary costs that we have taken and not to the market.”

Group fee based income had increased 32.5 percent to 4.14 billion rupees from the previous year.

Foreign exchange profits shot up 144.7 percent to reach 2.88 billion rupees from higher foreign exchange transaction fees from rising remittance volumes, higher market foreign exchange transactions and exchange g