Doha Bank CEO expects tough 2016 on banking sector

Gulf banks' profitability has remained fairly resilient so far, but R. Seetharaman says global conditions will make the year tough for the industry
Doha Bank CEO expects tough 2016 on banking sector
By Reuters
Mon 25 Jan 2016 09:11 AM

Doha Bank expects 2016 to be a tough year as global economic conditions impact on its performance, the chief executive said on Sunday, after Qatar's fourth-largest lender by assets reported a 6.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit.

Global markets have experienced a turbulent start to 2016, with oil prices - a major factor in Gulf economies - hitting a 12-year low on fears of a continuing glut in the commodity.

Gulf banks' profitability has remained fairly resilient so far in the latest earnings season, with Qatar National Bank and a number of Saudi lenders reporting higher earnings, although there have been pressures on liquidity in the latter half of last year as governments withdrew cash from the banking system to help plug gaps in their budgets.

The impact is expected to be more pronounced in this year's earnings, according to R. Seetharaman, chief executive of Doha Bank.

"We have grown 20-30 percent in the past but this year is not going to be exponential, no way," he told reporters at a press conference to announce its 2015 results.

"With the current set of challenges, commodities falling, currencies bottoming out, it's going to be tough."

Seetharaman added that the bank was still planning to raise its capital this year, following on from a December announcement about the move, although the timing had not been decided.

Doha Bank earned a net profit of 232 million riyals ($63.7 million) in the three months to Dec. 31 compared with 218.7 million riyals in the same period of the previous year. Reuters calculated the increase in quarterly profit as the bank only gave full-year results for 2015, without a quarterly breakdown.

Four analysts polled by Reuters had forecast on average the bank would make a quarterly net profit of 258.7 million riyals.

Doha Bank made a profit of 1.374 billion riyals in 2015, according to a statement, up from 1.359 billion riyals in the previous year.

The bank's statement added that its board was recommending a cash dividend of 3 riyals per share for 2015, below the 4 riyals per share payout for 2014.

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