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Qatar National Bank Q1 net profit up 17.4pc

Doha, April 4, 2012

Qatar National Bank, the Gulf Arab state's largest lender by market value, reported a 17.4 per cent rise in quarterly profits on Wednesday, in results that fell just shy of analyst estimates.

First quarter net profit rose to 2 billion riyals ($549.3 million) in the three months to March 31, compared with 1.7 billion riyals in the prior year period, the bank said in a statement.

An average of five analysts saw a net profit of 2.1 billion riyals, according to a Reuters survey.

QNB is the first major regional lender to report earnings and is closely watched for an indication of the sector's performance.

Total operating income was up 24.4 per cent on the year-ago period, which the bank attributed to strong growth across a range of revenue sources.

Loans and advances at the end of March were 201 billion riyals, growing 3.6 per cent during the quarter and up 43 per cent on the end of the same month in 2011.

Deposits and unrestricted investment accounts rose to 38.5 billion riyals, up 21.1 per cent on the same time last year, the statement said.

QNB has been in negotiations to acquire Turkey's Denizbank, the fast-growing Turkish arm of euro zone debt casualty Dexia, in a deal potentially worth up to $6 billion.

The Qatari bank, whose chairman is also the country's finance minister, was the only party left bidding for Denizbank, as crippled Dexia dismantles itself after a state bail-out at the height of the euro zone debt crisis last year.

But Dexia is hoping that rival suitors for Denizbank will return after it failed to get a higher price from QNB for the Turkish unit, sources familiar with the matter said late last month.

Dexia considered the Qatari offer too low, and is not willing to sell the healthy Turkish business - which gives access to a fast-growing market - in a fire-sale, sources said.

In February QNB issued a $1 billion five-year bond which was five times oversubscribed and received orders from more than 270 investors globally, in the first global issue from a Qatari name this year.

Proceeds from the bond are to be used for the general purposes of the bank, the lender said.

QNB is 50 per cent owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority and has been expanding abroad, with operations in Syria, Jordan, the UAE and Switzerland.

Banks in Qatar are expected to benefit as the country is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, set to spend more on infrastructure as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

Shares in QNB closed down on Wednesday 0.7 per cent at 135.9 riyals before the results were announced. They are down 1 per cent year-to-date. – Reuters

Tags: Qatar | Doha | Qatar National Bank | bond | Quarterly Profits |

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