Qatar National Bank Q1 net profit jumps 35%

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(Bloomberg Images)

(Bloomberg Images)

Qatar National Bank (QNB), the Gulf state's largest lender by market value, posted a 34.8 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday boosted by strong loan growth and a jump in interest income.

Net profit in the three months to March 31 rose to QR1.7bn ($467.3m), the company said in a statement, compared with QR1.27bn in the prior year period.

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

Loans and advances, and financing activities jumped 19.5 percent during the quarter, while deposits and unrestricted investment accounts grew 36.4 percent, the statement said.

Net interest income and income from financing activities increased by 43.6 percent, the statement said.

Although QNB has been expanding abroad, chief executive officer Ali Shareef Al Emadi said that its main market remained Qatar for its public and private sector project financing opportunities.

Banks in the tiny Gulf state are expected to benefit as the world's fastest growing economy spends more on infrastructure in preparation for hosting the 2022 World Cup.

In March, Qatar's central bank governor said the economy should expand by 18 percent in 2011 and that loan growth would be better than last year.

Shares of the company closed up 0.9 percent before the earnings statement, rose 61 percent last year and are down 3 percent so far in 2011. ($1=QR3.638)

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