DUBAI- Saudi Arabia's biggest lender National Commercial Bank 1180.SE on Tuesday posted a nearly 24% rise in third-quarter net profit, as net commission income rose and impairment charges dropped.

NCB posted a net profit of 3.16 billion riyals ($843 million) in the quarter ended September 30, up from 2.55 billion in the same period a year earlier.

CI Capital had forecast NCB would post a net profit of 2.1 billion riyals, while EFG Hermes had predicted 2.2 billion riyals.

Net impairment charges for expected credit losses were 379 million riyals for the quarter, down 43% from a year earlier.

Earlier this month NCB entered a binding merger agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group 1090.SE to create a combined entity with $223 billion in assets. 

Rating agency Moody's said the merger will reinforce and eventually strengthen NCB's number one position in the market, and increase its resilience against current operating environment pressures.

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) ((; +971 44536787; Reuters Messaging: