Masraf Raises 2012 Net 7.9%, Approves 1 Riyal Dividend

Masraf Al Rayan reported a 7.9 percent increase in profit last year, helping Qatar’s second-biggest lender by market value finance a plan to buy shares in banks in Libya and the U.K.

Net income for 2012 rose to 1.52 billion riyals ($420 million), the lender said today in an e-mailed release. Qatar National Bank Financial Services forecast a profit of 1.45 billion riyals. The lender’s board recommended a cash dividend of 1 riyal a share.

“We are expecting a decent performance on the stock,” Ahmed Shehada, head of trading at Qatar National Bank Financial Services in Doha, said in a phone interview from Qatar. “The result is not just above our projection but above what was expected generally. Paying a 1 riyal dividend demonstrates the bank’s commitment to its shareholders.”

Masraf is in the process of acquiring shares in a Libyan bank through a capital increase, the lender said, without naming the bank. It’s also in the process of buying a stake in Islamic Bank of Britain Plc. Qatari banks are expanding abroad amid limited growth opportunities in their home market of 1.8 million people.

Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC, the country’s second-biggest lender by assets, plans to complete talks next month to buy a 75 percent in Turkey’s Alternatifbank. Qatar National Bank SAQ, the country’s biggest lender, agreed to buy a majority stake in Egypt’s National Societe General Bank SAE last month.

Masraf’s financing activities rose to 42.8 billion riyals last year from 34.8 billion in 2011, the lender said. Deposits rose to 45 billion riyals from 33.1 billion riyals and assets increased 12 percent to 61.6 billion riyals.

The share price fell 1.6 percent today to 25.3 riyals on the Qatar Exchange before the results were announced. The shares rose 3.7 percent over the past year, compared with a 2.4 percent return for the QE Index of Qatari companies.