November 15, 2018 / 6:25 AM / in 7 months

Israel's Bank Hapoalim Q3 net profit beats expectations

TEL AVIV, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest lender, reported higher quarterly net profit that topped estimates, but again decided not to pay a quarterly dividend due to an ongoing U.S. tax evasion investigation.

Hapoalim said on Thursday it earned 950 million shekels ($257.5 million) in the third quarter, up from 469 million a year earlier and compared with 854 million forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Excluding one-time items, net profit in the quarter was 980 million shekels, compared with 861 million a year earlier.

The bank said it did not make an additional provision this quarter to cover a possible future settlement regarding the investigation of the bank’s business with U.S. clients. It previously had provisioned $365 million.

The bank’s board did not declare a quarterly dividend for the second quarter in a row due to the uncertainty of the probe. It said this did not change its policy of paying dividends of up to 40 percent of quarterly net profit.

Net interest income rose to 2.23 billion shekels in the quarter from 2.09 billion a year earlier while it had a credit loss expense of 118 million shekels compared with income of 8 million.

Its core Tier 1 capital ratio to risk-weighted assets, a key measure of financial strength, rose to 11.32 percent from 11.26 percent at the end of 2017. ($1 = 3.6891 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer)

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