Qatar's CBQ posts 19% Q4 profit jump

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Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ), which is eyeing a majority stake in Turkey's Alternatifbank, posted a 19 percent jump in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday on increased lending, but still trailed analysts' forecasts.

The bank earned QAR447m (US$122.8m) for the fourth quarter, compared with QAR376m a year earlier, a company statement said.

Analysts had forecast an average quarterly profit of QAR452.4m, according to a Reuters poll.

CBQ earned a full-year profit of QAR2bn, up 7 percent compared to QAR1.88bn in 2011.

Total assets grew 12 percent to QAR80bn due to growth in lending to customers. Loans and advances increased 17 percent over the course of 2012 to QAR48.6bn.

Deposits grew 9 percent in 2012 to QAR41.4bn.

Net provisions for loans and advances fell 42 percent in 2012 to QAR140, the statement said.

However, the bank's total operating expenses grew 17 percent to QAR1bn, compared with QAR875m in 2011, with staffing costs the main factor behind the rise.

The bank proposed a cash dividend of QAR6 per share, equal to 2011's dividend.

CBQ said earlier this month it expects to complete the purchase of a 75 percent stake in Turkey's Alternatifbank by the end of March. It began talks in December with Anadolu Holding to acquire the stake, the latest example of Gulf lenders looking outside their home market for acquisitions.

Alternatifbank has a current market value of US$566m, meaning the stake would cost the Qatari bank US$424.5m at market price.

Recent Qatari banks' strong interest in Turkey is likely to stem from the desire to diversify out of their home country's narrow economy, coupled with the lack of potential acquisitions in the Gulf region, Fitch Ratings said in a January 14 note.

Qatar National Bank, the Gulf state's largest lender, is interested in expanding into Turkey through acquisitions, its chief financial officer said earlier this month, having lost out to Russia's Sberbank last year in a bid to buy Denizbank.

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