UPDATE 1-Israel's Gazit-Globe swings to quarterly profit

Wed May 23, 2012 3:35am EDT

* Net profit 260 mln shekels vs 14 mln shekel loss

* Rental income up 11 pct to 1.41 bln shekels

* To pay dividend of 0.4 shekel per share

TEL AVIV, May 23 (Reuters) - Israel's largest real estate investment company Gazit-Globe swung to a profit in the first quarter on higher rental income and a gain in the value of investment property.

Gazit-Globe said on Wednesday it made a net profit of 260 million shekels ($67.4 million), compared with a net loss of 14 million a year earlier.

Property rental income rose 11 percent in the first three months of 2012 to 1.41 billion shekels.

Net operating income rose 13 percent to 935 million shekels.

"During the quarter we saw continued strong contribution from our investments made over the past 18 months," Chief Executive Roni Soffer said in a statement. "We have taken advantage of opportunities both in the private and public real estate markets while carefully exploring investment opportunities and continuing to maintain a conservative and strong balance sheet."

During the quarter the group bought five income-producing properties and adjacent land parcels for development for a total of 721 million shekels.

The company said it would pay a dividend of 0.4 shekel a share - up from 0.39 a year earlier - on July 3 as part of its plan for an annual payout of 1.6 shekels per share.

Gazit-Globe operates in the United States through Equity One and in Canada through First Capital Reality Inc . It is also the largest shareholder in Finland's Citycon and together with Citigroup controls shopping mall developer Atrium European Real Estate.