WLTW

Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company

231.56
USD
-1.19%
231.56
USD
-1.19%
197.63 271.87
52 weeks
52 weeks

Mkt Cap 28.85B

Shares Out 124.61M

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Israel's Bank Hapoalim seeks to resume dividends in second quarter

JERUSALEM, May 23 (Reuters) - Bank Hapoalim POLI.TA reported an estimate-beating quarterly profit on Monday, helped by a spike in inflation that boosted financing income, and said it hoped to resume dividend payouts in the second quarter. Amid a continuation of unwinding loan default provisions generated during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hapoalim, one of Israel's two largest lenders, said it earned 1.654 billion shekels ($494 million) in the first quarter, compared with a profit of 1.354 billion shekels a year earlier. A Reuters poll of analysts forecast a quarterly profit of 1.1 billion shekels. For the second straight quarter, Hapoalim opted against a dividend distribution, citing the need for caution in the current economic environment and a possible global economic slowdown. "The Bank aspires to return to a trajectory of ongoing dividend distribution soon, and estimates that the solid capital position and balanced growth are important milestones on the path towards potentially renewing dividend distribution in respect of the second quarter of 2022 and onward," it said. Hapoalim pointed to a Tier 1 capital ratio of 11.17% at the end of March that was up from 10.96% at the end of 2021 as proof of its solid financial footing along with a "resilient" credit portfolio quality that shows low loan defaults. In 2021, once the banking regulator allowed banks to resume dividends, Hapoalim paid dividends of 1.5 billion shekels in the second half of the year, 862 million coming in December. Net interest income rose to 2.72 billion shekels in the first quarter from 2.23 billion shekels a year earlier, while it posted an income from the provision for loan losses of 600 million shekels, compared with an income of 508 million in January-March 2021. Israel's inflation rate reached 3.5% in March, rising to 4% in April. In March 2021, the inflation rate stood at 0.2%. Its shares were up 2.5% in morning trade in Tel Aviv. Smaller rival Discount Bank DSCT.TA reported a 49% rise in quarterly profit that was helped by a one-time gain, while also declaring a quarterly dividend. ($1 = 3.3491 shekels) (Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Ed Osmond) ((steven.scheer@thomsonreuters.com; +972 2 632 2210; Reuters Messaging: steven.scheer.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: @StevenMScheer)) The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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