UAE's First Gulf Bank Q4 profits up 12%

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First Gulf Bank, the UAE's second-largest lender by market value, on Wednesday beat analysts' expectations with a 12-percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, boosted by higher interest income and Islamic financing.

The bank made a net profit of AED1.15bn (US$313.1m) in the final three months of 2012, up from AED1.02bn in the same period of 2011.

Six analysts polled by Reuters forecast an average net profit of AED1.024bn for the quarter.

Full-year net profit for 2012 was AED4.15bn, also up 12 percent over 2011.

The performance encouraged FGB to raise its cash dividend by 67 percent over 2011. The total cash dividends of AED2.5bn for 2012, worth 60 percent of net profit, is equivalent to AED0.83 per share, the statement said.

"Given our current strong capital and liquidity position, we are very comfortable with the proposal," Abdulhamid Saeed, board member and managing director of FGB, said.

The bank booked provisions of AED428m in the fourth quarter versus AED303.7m in the same period of 2011, taking full-year provisions to AED1.65bn, up 6 percent over the previous year.

Loans and advances grew 9 percent over the course of 2012 to AED114.6bn, while deposits grew 15 percent over the same timeframe to AED119.3bn. Total assets stood at AED175.0bn at the end of December, up 11 percent over that of December 2011.

In November, FGB raised US$900m loan from a group of international banks to finance its expansion.

FGB shares were trading 0.8 percent down at 0925 GMT, trimming 2013 gains to 5.5 percent, against a 0.1 percent increase in the wider Abu Dhabi index on Wednesday.

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