Qatar National Bank Forecasts 10% Rise in Profit on Loan Growth

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Middle East’s biggest bank by assets, expects to increase profit by 10 percent this year on increased lending as economic growth in the emirate accelerates.

This growth excludes the purchase of a majority stake in Egypt’s National Societe Generale Bank which should be completed within two months, Chief Financial Officer Ramzi Mari said on a conference call today. “We still have a lot of room to grow even after the Egyptian market consolidation,” he said. “We believe business in 2013 and 2014 will be as strong as 2012.”

The government revised its 2012 nominal GDP growth, which reflects the cost of oil, to 14.7 percent from 11.2 percent amid higher-than-forecast crude prices. Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup, plans to spend $138 billion on infrastructure from 2011 to 2016, greater than 10 percent of GDP through 2016, the government also said in December.

The bank’s funding costs may also decline by 25 to 30 basis points, said Mari. Qatar National Bank raised the dividend to 60 percent of its share value last year after reporting an 11 percent rise in profit. The payout in 2012 was an “exception,” said Mari.

“Historically, QNB pays not more than 40 percent,” he said. “The strategy talks about 40 percent. The board fully understands that strategy.”

QNB is purchasing a 75 percent stake in National Societe Generale amid a depreciation in the Egyptian pound, which has fallen 6.7 percent in the past month. The depreciation won’t affect the lender’s profitability and QNB has no plans to withdraw from the deal, Mari said.

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