KARACHI - United Bank Limited (UBL) continued to deliver strong financial performance in a challenging external environment, with consolidated profit before tax of Rs.14 billion at the end of third quarter 2008, which was 23 per cent higher than the same period last year. Profit after tax closed at Rs.9.1 billion, translating into Earnings per share (EPS) of Rs.8.86, up from Rs.7.20 in September 2007. Strong growth in net interest income as well as non-interest income contributed towards this favourable performance. Net income before provisions rose to Rs.21.3 billion, exceeding that of last year by 15 per cent, whereas non-interest income grew by 40 per cent over a similar period to Rs.9.6 billion. Higher corporate finance fees and trade commissions (up 29%) contributed to this increase. Net provisions at Rs 3.9B are up by 8% from the corresponding period last year. In comparison to 2Q08, provisions have remained flat. Administrative expenses increased by 22% over the corresponding period last year on account of higher rent and utilities cost on the branch network and infrastructure, as well as ongoing investments in core banking facilities.  Overall inflationary pressures on personnel and general operating expenses also contributed to this increase. The bank's deposits grew by Rs.53 billion i.e. 13% to Rs.465 billion on a consolidated basis over the period under review. Domestic deposits grew by Rs.19 billion i.e. 6% to Rs.348 billion increasing the bank's share of deposits from 9.1% in December 2007 to 9.3% in September 2008. Total advances increased by 21% to Rs.393 billion. Domestic bank advances accounted for 44% of the growth led by a 24% increase in corporate portfolio mainly in the power, energy, fertilizer and telecom sectors.  Total assets grew by Rs.71 billion to Rs.618 billion. International operations remained vibrant during 2008 raising contribution to the bank's total profitability to 20% and total assets to 24%. Profit before tax increased by 22% to Rs.2.8 billion, deposits grew significantly by 51% to Rs.107 billion and advances by 55% to Rs.100 billion.