RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Thailand

Bank of Ayudhya expects robust second quarter performance

Confident of better second quarter after strong $92 mn first quarter profit as it sticks to loan target.

Bank of Ayudhya , Thailand's fifth-largest bank and part-owned by General Electric , expects a strong second quarter and is sticking to its loan growth target for 2011 despite political tension ahead of a general election.

"The first quarter was good, and the second quarter is looking good also," Chief Executive Mark Arnold told Reuters in an interview, referring to net profit.

The bank, in which General Electric owns a 33 percent stake that Arnold said was not on the auction block, posted a 36 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 2.81 billion baht ($92 million) thanks to strong loan growth and lower provisions.

Arnold said demand for loans by local operators was holding up but international investors were holding back to see how the general election on July 3 played out.

"They're all watching, they're all holding their breath ... I think they're waiting to see whether or not the process will go through democratically and what the outcome will be and I don't think anyone has even thought about it beyond that," he said.

Thailand will hold a general election next month that some hope will draw a line under five years of sometimes bloody political conflict. Campaigning so far has been peaceful, but the potential for unrest is high, especially if rival parties jostle to form a coalition government after the vote. 

View the full story in Reuters.

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