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First Gulf Bank Plans Asia Expansion as Profit Beats Estimates

First Gulf Bank PJSC said it will remain focused on expansion in Asia as the lender controlled by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family reported a 15 percent increase in second-quarter profit.

Net income advanced to 1.17 billion dirhams ($319 million) from 1.02 billion dirhams a year earlier, the bank said in a statement. The mean estimate of six analysts was for a profit of 1.08 billion dirhams, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

First Gulf Bank joins National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC and Emirates NBD PJSC in seeking to diversify its business through expansion outside the United Arab Emirates. Emirates NBD, which bought BNP Paribas’ Egypt unit, said it plans to open representative offices in Asia, while National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s Paris unit plans to raise 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to help expand in Europe.

“Our geographic expansion over the coming quarters remains focused on Asia,” First Gulf Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Andre Sayegh said in the statement. Global operations contributed 7 percent of profit compared with 5 percent a year earlier.

Corporate and retail fees grew 34 percent to 460 million dirhams, while net interest and Islamic financing income increased 9 percent to 1.48 billion dirhams. The bank last month agreed to buy Dubai First, a consumer financial services business owned by Dubai Financial Group LLC.

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