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Wed 13 Jan 2010 02:46 AM

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QNB 2009 profit gains 15% to rise to $1.2bn

'Very strong fundamentals' pushed bank profits up - analysts

Qatar National Bank, the Arabian Gulf country’s biggest lender, said 2009 profit increased 15 percent amid a rise in net assets and customer deposits.

Net income for the year rose to $1.2 billion from $1.02 billion in 2008, the company said today in an emailed statement.

The results beat the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg for 2009 adjusted net income of $1.12 billion. Earnings per share rose to $3.84 from $3.37.

Before the earnings were announced, Sofia El Boury, a banking analyst at Shuaa Capital PSC, said:“QNB is definitely a bank that displayed very strong fundamentals throughout the year, despite a very difficult environment for banks in general.” El Boury estimated earnings of $1.12 billion.

Qatar National, the second best performing bank on Qatar’s DSM 20 Index in the past six months behind Doha Bank QSC, helped manage the country’s $7 billion bond sale in November.

Its biggest shareholder is the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

El Boury said: “We don’t have any specific concerns on the bank’s asset quality given its large government exposure.”

Qatar National Bank’s net assets rose to $49.25 billion, up 18 percent from 2008. Total customer deposits and unrestricted investment accounts increased to $34.58 billion, 21 percent higher.

Loans, advances and financing activities expanded 8.7 percent to $29.88 billion, the bank said. A total of 0.7 percent of gross loans were non performing.

Qatari banks suffered from losses related to a slump in international equity and real estate markets following the global economic slowdown in 2008 and 2009.

Rental rates in Qatar fell about 25 percent last year with residential rentals expected to fall a further 15 percent by mid 2010, according to a report by Century 21 Qatar.

The Qatari government bolstered lenders by agreeing to buy real-estate investments worth as much as $4.12 billion as well as $1.8 billion in other investments.

Qatar National Bank fell 1 percent to $41.77 on the Qatar Exchange today, its biggest decline this month. The company reported its 2009 financial results after the market closed.

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