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WASHINGTON-CUNA Chairman Juri Valdov `praised’ the record profits announced for Zions Bank and doing their part to keep the banks as the nation’s most profitable industry. “Kudos to Zions Bancorporation and [American Bankers Association] Chairman [Harris] Simmons for doing their parts to ensure that banking remains the nation’s most profitable industry. According to the American Petroleum Institute, America’s banks have been the leaders since 2000 in American industry earnings, outdistancing pharmaceuticals, real estate, health care – even the oil industry – in maximizing their profits,” Valdov said. The American Petroleum Institute, in a marketing campaign to take the heat off their record profits and, some would allege, price gouging following Hurricane Katrina, have begun running advertisements comparing their profits to other industries. The figures showed banks at the top of the heap, earning 17.3 cents per dollar of sales. Pharmaceuticals followed at 16.2 cents and oil and natural gas earnings were just 5.8 cents for sixth place by earnings. API based its calculations on company filings with the federal government as reported by various publications and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Last month, Zions announced a record net income of $480.1 million in 2005, an 18.3% increase over the previous year. Zions’ revenue was $1.8 billion in 2005, representing a 12.5% increase from 2004. Simmons has been one of the most vocal critics of the credit union tax-exemption and lack of Community Reinvestment Act requirements. “Mr. Simmons has built a career in banking industry leadership by criticizing credit unions, particularly by claiming how credit union competition is a threat to banking and its ability to make profits,” Valdov said. “The facts, however, belie his rhetoric. Clearly, credit unions do not stand in the way of Zions making money.”

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