The HKCB Bank Holding Co yesterday reported a 22.5 per cent increase in attributable profit to HK$180.53 million for the year to December, during which its charge for bad and doubtful debts surged 6.66 times to HK$267.24 million. The group, owned by Lippo and China Resources Holdings, did not give precise reasons for the surge in bad debt charges but said interest margins for banks in Hong Kong came under severe pressure as a result of the rising rates following the Asian crisis. Its 100 per cent-owned Hongkong Chinese Bank reported only a slight 4.6 per cent increase in attributable profit to HK$336 million during the period, when its charge for bad debts surged 4.5 times to HK$170.2 million. It said the bank's strong liquidity and prudent, conservative lending policy helped achieve steady growth. During the year the bank issued US$70 million in 10-year subordinated floating-rate notes and received from its parent a HK$1.2 billion capital injection, boosting its capital adequacy ratio to 21 per cent from the previous 14 per cent. The 100 per cent-owned merchant banking arm Lippo Securities Holdings managed to make a 'satisfactory' profit contribution, the group said without breaking down the figures. The 50 per cent-owned Lippo Protective Life Insurance saw its total premium revenue grow more than 85 per cent to HK$200 million. Locally listed Hong Kong Building and Loans Agency, 63.59 per cent of which is held through Hongkong Chinese Bank, was slightly affected by volatile money market rates as it reported a 4.2 per cent decline in attributable profit to HK$43.42 million during the period. Earnings per share were 19 cents, down from the previous 20 cents. A final dividend of 7 cents will be paid, boosting the annual payout to 10.25 cents, up from the previous 10 cents.