Qatar National Bank nets 7.5bn rial profit

What's up: Gulf investors are flocking to high-yielding stocks after a dismal year for financial markets.

Qatar National Bank QNB plans to expand its presence across the Middle East and Africa. Ryan Carter / The National
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Qatar National Bank (QNB), the country's biggest bank by assets, reported a net profit of 7.5 billion rials for last year, a 32 per cent increase from the previous year.

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The bank also proposed the distribution of a 40 per cent cash dividend, equivalent to 4 rials a share and 10 per cent in bonus shares, subject to approval by the bank's board and shareholders.

UAE banks have not released their annual financial statements as yet but have paid dividends averaging 16 per cent to 26 per cent in the past few years.

"It's a solid set of numbers," said Haissam Arabi, the chief executive at Gulfmena Investments in Dubai. "This is a commercial bank that has grown 32 per cent amidst all that has happened across the world." QNB is attractively valued, trading at nine times future estimated dearnings, Mr Arabi said.

Qatar, which plans to spend US$88bn on infrastructure to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022, forecasts its economy will expand by about 16 per cent this year. QNB plans to expand its presence across the Middle East and Africa.

Last year, the lender completed the acquisition of a controlling stake of 70 per cent in Bank Kesawan in Indonesia. The bank also launched operations in Lebanon and South Sudan, and added a fifth branch in Oman.

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