Bahrain's Ahli posts big Q1 profit jump after Qatar stake sale

Ahli United Bank booked a $212.9 million gain after selling a 29.4 percent stake in Qatar's Ahli Bank

Bahrain's Ahli United Bank posted a big jump in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday as its earnings were boosted by a one-time gain from the sale of a stake in a Qatari associate, with earnings excluding this also showing healthy growth.

The kingdom's largest lender by market value booked a $212.9 million gain after selling a 29.4 percent stake in Qatar's Ahli Bank in January to Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organisation wholly-owned by the Gulf state's royal family.

This sent the bank's net attributable profit for the three months to March 31 up to $309.8 million from $86.4 million in the corresponding period of last year, a statement on the Bahrain bourse said.

Without the one-off gain net profit for the quarter was $96.9 million, up 12.2 percent on the same three months of 2012.

The bank attributed the year-on-year profit increase to an 11 percent growth in net interest income, which rose to $167.4 million in the first three months of 2013.

It also recorded an 18.6 percent growth in deposits over the first quarter to $21.6 billion from $18.2 billion at the end of 2012. The bank did not say what contributed to the increase but said the inflow allowed it to reduce its borrowing on the interbank market by 26 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Ahli United is expected to be one of the Bahraini lenders identified by the country's central bank as key to the stability of its financial system.

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