UAE's NBAD quarterly profit tops estimates

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National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), the UAE's largest lender by market value, posted a 55 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, beating analysts' forecasts, helped by higher investment income and lower impairment charges.

The majority state-owned bank made a net profit of AED1.12bn (US$305.2m) in the fourth quarter compared with AED724m for the prior-year period, it said in a bourse statement on Tuesday.

Full-year profit was AED4.33bn, up 16.8 percent from AED3.71bn in 2011, NBAD said.

Analysts on average forecast a fourth-quarter profit of AED876.5m in a Reuters poll earlier this month.

"Our growth was a result of the success of our diversified business model, investment gains driven by favorable financial market conditions and successful hedging strategies," Michael Tomalin, NBAD's CEO, said in the statement.

The lender also continued to expand its international presence by opening offices in China and Malaysia, and has set a target of expanding abroad from 14 countries to 41 countries by 2022, he said.

Net impairment charges for the fourth quarter stood at AED365m, down 24 percent from the prior-year period. Full-year charges reached AED1.33bn compared with AED1.49bn in 2011.

Loans and advances stood at AED164.6bn in 2012, down 3.2 percent compared with 2011, while deposits rose 25.4 per cent to AED190.3bn. Total assets grew 17.6 per cent during the year to AED300.6bn.

In November, the bank issued a 15-year MYR500m (US$163m) Islamic bond or sukuk, its third in the south Asian currency. NBAD earlier opened a wholly-owned subsidiary in the Malaysian capital

The bank is also looking at acquisitions in Asia and Africa as part of plans to double the proportion of profits it makes from abroad over the coming decade, its head of international banking said in December.

Shares in NBAD were suspended pending the earnings announcement. They are up 7.8 percent year-to-date.

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