CHINA Banking Corp. reported a net income of P4.03 billion for 2009, a hefty 42.5 percent increase over the income recorded for the same period last year.

This strong performance enhanced the bank’s return on equity, which reached 15.49 percent in 2009, from 11.98 percent in 2008, and return on assets, which stood at 1.84 percent, from 1.53 percent, still among the highest in the industry.

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The growth in profits was driven by a 17.8 percent increase in total revenues to P16.69 billion and better interest margins that improved to 4.1 percent in 2009 from 3.8 percent in 2008.

Fee-based revenues grew by 80.9 percent from P1.98 billion to P3.59 billion.

“Last year, most of the banks benefited from the turnaround in market conditions following the previous year’s global financial crisis. We are pleased thatChina Bank managed to weather the storm and we were still able to pursue our expansion plans as programmed,” said China Bank president and CEO Peter S. Dee.

With stronger revenues, China Bank’s cost efficiency ratio improved to 57.68 percent and even as its 2009 operating expenses grew by 32.7 percent to P6.69 billion.

The bank carried out its expansion program, opening 32 branches and making significant investments in new ATMs and technologies. China Bank (including China Bank Savings) ended 2009 with 247 branches and 380 ATMs.

“We are gratified to end 2009 on a high note,” said Ricardo R. Chua, executive vice president and chief operating officer, “Early last year, we committed to work harder.

Our performance for the year confirms that our strategic initiatives are on track.” (PR)