Dubai-listed BLME says to pay first dividend in 2016

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Bank of London and The Middle East (BLME) , Britain's largest stand-alone Islamic bank, aims to pay its first dividend in early 2016 as the lender diversifies its revenue and funding streams, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Founded in 2006 by Kuwait's Boubyan Bank, BLME has not paid a dividend, but its net distributable reserves are expected to reach a sufficient level in 2015, chief executive Humphrey Percy said in a conference call.

"We have been constrained from having net distributable reserves...We expect this to change...not in 2014, but only in 2015," he said.

Asked whether a dividend would be paid in 2016, Percy replied: "Absolutely, based on current forecasts...This is what we anticipate."

London-based BLME, which provides corporate banking and wealth management services, posted a net profit of 4.0 million pounds ($6.6 million) in the first half of 2014, up from 1.0 million pounds during the same period last year.

This was aided by diversification of revenue streams, with the corporate banking division seeing its total operating income grow 32.5 percent from a year earlier.

The Dubai-listed bank has reduced its reliance on short-term funding sources: deposits with maturities of more than one year now account for 34 percent of total deposits, up from 20 percent a year earlier.

BLME had total assets worth 1.3 billion pounds as of June, a 13 percent rise year-on-year.

The bank opened a Dubai representative office in the third quarter of last year and listed its shares on NasdaqDubai in October, becoming the first new equity listing in Dubai for over four years.

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