Qatar's QNB posts 6.7% rise in Q1 net profit

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Qatar National Bank (QNB), the acquisitive Gulf Arab lender, posted an 6.7 percent jump in first-quarter net profit on Sunday, in line with analysts' estimates, on the back of strong loan growth in the Gulf state.

QNB, which completed the purchase of a majority stake in Societe Generale's Egyptian arm for $2bn last month, posted a net profit of QR2.1bn ($577m) for the first three months of 2013, compared with 2 billion riyals a year earlier, the bank said in a statement on Sunday.

Analysts on average forecast a net profit of QR2.18bn in a Reuters poll.

QNB, whose results are generally seen as an indicator for the sector's performance in the country, said it would include results of its Egypt acquisition, National Societe Generale Bank in its second quarter numbers.

Lending growth year-on-year stood at 28.7 percent, with loans and advances standing at QR259bn on March 31.

Deposits grew 28.2 percent over the same period to QR280bn.

QNB, which has snapped up several banking stakes as part of a regional expansion strategy, said in December it was now looking at a majority stake in a top 10 Turkish bank as a means to add value.

The bank, which already has stakes in lenders in countries such as Indonesia, Jordan and Tunisia, wants its international business to contribute around 40 percent of profit and 45 percent of total assets by 2017, chief financial officer Ramzi Mari said in December, up from around 17 percent and 30 percent prior to the NSGB transaction.

The lender, which is 50 percent owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority and has a market value of around $26bn, raised its stake in Abu Dhabi-based Commercial Bank International to 39.9 percent from 16.5 percent last year.

It also boosted its stake in Iraq's Mansour Bank to 51 percent and bought a 49 percent stake in Libya's Bank of Commerce and Development last April.

QNB shares closed down 0.7 percent on Sunday before the results were announced against a wider market decline of 0.5 percent. The shares have risen 3.4 percent year-to-date, marginally outperforming the wider benchmark which is up 2.1 percent during the same period.

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