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TEL AVIV, March 30 (Reuters) - Bank Leumi, Israel's second-largest lender, reported slightly higher fourth-quarter net profit that missed expectations and said it will begin paying a dividend for the first time in six years.
Leumi posted on Thursday quarterly net profit of 443 million shekels ($122 million), up from 431 million a year ago but below a forecast of 468 million shekels in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Net interest income rose to 1.87 billion shekels from 1.73 billion. It had credit loss expenses of 46 million shekels versus 33 million a year ago.
For the first time in six years the bank adopted a dividend policy, as its board set a payout ratio of 20 percent of quarterly profit, starting in the first quarter of 2017.
Its Tier 1 ratio, which measures equity capital as a proportion of total risk-weighted assets, rose to 11.15 percent at the end of 2016 from 9.58 percent at the end of 2015. ($1 = 3.6205 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)