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BOC Hong Kong's net profit down 78% in 2008
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Net profit of Bank of China Hong Kong (BOC Hong Kong) in 2008 dived 78.4 percent to 3.34 billion HK dollars (431 million U.S. dollars), due to the increase in impairment charges on securities investments against the volatile market condition, the company said Tuesday.

Announcing its annual results, BOC Hong Kong said that earnings per share were 0.3162 HK dollars, down 78.4 percent, noting the Board has recommended no final dividend in view of the need to preserve the capital strength of the company in the turbulent market.

This resulted in a total dividend for 2008 of 0.438 HK dollars per share, said the company.

Last year, the company registered net operating income before impairment allowances of 25.52 billion HK dollars, down 6.3 percent, mainly dragged by investment related businesses. Operating profit before impairment allowances dropped by 14.0 percent to 16.75 billion HK dollars.

"2008 was a highly challenging year for the Group," said He Guangbei, vice chairman and chief executive of BOC Hong Kong, at a press conference here, noting that the bank's traditional banking businesses continued to deliver solid performance while the investment related businesses were negatively affected.

As the financial crisis intensified in the second half of 2008,impairment charges on the bank's securities investments increased, dampening the overall results, he acknowledged.

"For 2009, the global economic crisis will continue to affect us in the near term," he said, noting that it is extremely important for the bank to stay flexible, alert and proactive in managing its risks, capital, liquidity and expenses.

"The unique collaborative platform between BOC Hong Kong and BOC in various business areas will be further strengthened to extend our presence in the region and to better serve our customers, creating greater value for our shareholders," he said.

BOC Hong Kong was incorporated in Hong Kong on Sept. 12, 2001, and the Company is a subsidiary of Bank of China Limited which holds approximately 65.7 percent equity interest in the Company. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.742 HK dollars)

(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2009)

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