Albanian bank assets up strongly

TIRANA (SeeNews) – The combined assets of commercial banks in Albania rose 16.4 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2005, to 496.5 billion leks ($4.9 billion/4.0 billion euros), the central bank said. The banks’ combined assets totaled 426.4 billion leks in the fourth quarter of 2004. «The downward trend in the contribution of the group of large banks to the rise in assets shows reduction of the concentration of banking assets as a whole,» the bank said in a quarterly report. The banks’ return on average assets (RoAA), which measures profitability in the sector, reached 1.4 percent on an annual basis at the end of December. «The indicator speaks of a significant improvement of RoAA, as compared to 2004, due to better financial results of the banks from main operations,» the bank said but provided no year-on-year comparative figure. Albania’s banking system comprised 17 banks at the end of last year. A newcomer, Union Bank, was licensed in late December.