* Q4 net attributable profit up 23 pct to $32 mln
* Plans 81 new branch openings in 2014
* Foreign units to issue more sukuk to diversify funding (Adds detail, context)
DUBAI, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Bahrain’s Al Baraka Banking Group reported a 23 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, and said it would continue expanding its network and issuing further sukuk through its foreign subsidiaries in 2014.
The Islamic lender recorded a net attributable profit of $32 million in the three months to December 31, compared with $26 million in the corresponding period of 2012, the bank said in a statement.
The hike came despite a slight decline in total operating income vis-à-vis the same quarter of 2012 to $227 million.
For the full-year 2013, net attributable profit gained 9 percent to $145 million, which the bank said was a result of its expanded operations, improvements in asset quality and better cost efficiency.
Al Baraka has operations in fifteen countries predominantly across the Middle East and Africa, including nations which have seen significant economic turmoil in the last year such as Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Sudan.
Adnan Ahmed Yousif, chief executive of Al Baraka, said in the statement that the results posted by the lender could be considered “satisfactory by all standards if we take into account the difficult economic and financial conditions that prevailed in the region and the world as a whole.”
Total assets at the end of 2013 stood at $21 billion, up 10 percent over the end of the previous year. Loans and advances and deposits increased 7 and 8 percent respectively over the same timeframe.
Al Baraka said it planned to add 81 branches to its network in 2014, in countries including Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt. It currently has 479 branches, the statement added.
The bank would also continue its policy of “diversifying financing resources for our subsidiary units through the issuance of Islamic sukuk.”
A senior executive at Albaraka Turk, the bank’s Turkish subsidiary, told Reuters last month it planned to issue sukuk worth between $300 million and $400 million in 2014, following on from its debut $200 million issue in April 2013. (Reporting by Mirna Sleiman; Writing by David French; Editing by Olzhas Auyezov)