Qatar's largest lender posts 40% rise in Q4 profit

Qatar National Bank says increased lending, surge in deposits boost performance

Banks in Qatar have benefited from the country's fast growing economy

Banks in Qatar have benefited from the country's fast growing economy

Qatar National Bank (QNB), the Gulf Arab state's largest lender, reported a 40 percent jump in quarterly profit on Monday on increased lending and a surge in deposits.

The bank's fourth-quarter net profit rose to QR2.1bn ($576.6m), according to Reuters calculations, from QR1.5bn a year earlier.

The lender said annual net profit jumped 32 percent to QR7.5bn in 2011. It earlier reported a nine-month net profit of QR5.4bn.

It set a 40 percent cash dividend and plans to issue bonus shares amounting to 10 percent of share capital, the bank said.

Loans and advances grew 47 percent to QR194bn, with 21 percent growth in customer deposits during 2011, QNB said. Net interest income and income from Islamic financing activities rose 37 percent to QR7.8bn.

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

It is 50 percent owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority and has been expanding abroad, with operations in Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

In October, sources told Reuters that QNB was eyeing Denizbank, the fast-growing Turkish arm of euro zone debt casualty Dexia, in a deal potentially worth up to $6bn.

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 at 152.90 riyals on Monday before the results were announced. They have risen 8 percent in the last year.

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