National Bank of Kuwait , the Gulf Arab state's
largest commercial lender, reported a 3.2 percent rise in first-quarter net
profit on Sunday, edging ahead of analysts' expectations.
Net profit was KWR83.9m ($298.6m)
in the three months to the end of March, compared to KWR81.3m a year
ago, it said in a bourse filing.
Five analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted KWR80.7m in net profit on average for the quarter.
NBK, which opened a new office in Dubai in March,
saw its international banking profit grow 15.5 percent in the first quarter of
Group chief executive officer Isam Al Sager said
the bank would maintain a strategy focused on diversification, international
expansion and a stronger push into Islamic finance.
Earlier this year he took over as CEO from Ibrahim
Dabdoub, who ran NBK for three decades and helped transform it from a local
lender into the Gulf's fifth largest bank by assets.
Sager said on Sunday that NBK's first-quarter
profit was mainly driven by core banking revenues. Net operating income grew
7.6 percent year-on-year to KWR158.4m, while loans and advances rose
9.6 percent to KWR10.95bn during the period.
During the first quarter, the bank's non-performing
loans (NPL) to gross loans ratio dropped to 1.93 percent from 2.72 percent a
The bank's vice chairman Nasser Al Sayer said last
month that Kuwait's domestic operating environment was improving. The market is
seeing some acceleration in the tendering, award and execution of some large
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