Earnings up 22% at First Maryland

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FIRST Maryland Bancorp, the US subsidiary of Allied Irish Bank, reflected the gradual return to health of the US banking industry with second-quarter earnings up 22 per cent to dollars 24.3m ( pounds 12.7m), writes Lisa Vaughan.

The results, announced yesterday, bring FMB's profits for the first half to dollars 44.3m, up 46 per cent from the first half of last year. The news boosted AIB's London share price 2p to 165p, bucking the decline in the UK stock market.

Tony McPoland of Goodbody Stockbrokers, in Dublin, said: 'In a stagnant (US) economy, they are very good results.'

Lower provisions for possible loan losses, increased net interest income and higher fee-based revenues in the six months to 30 June were responsible for FMB's improvement, AIB said. FMB operates more than 170 branches in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

AIB is the latest of the British banks to benefit from an upturn in its US operations this year, after the collapse of the East Coast property market hit bank profits hard in 1991. National Westminster Bank's US subsidiary, NatWest Bancorp, reported a turnaround earlier this month.