April 17, 2018 / 4:15 PM / 8 months ago

Qatar's Commercial Bank posts first-quarter profit leap

DUBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - Commercial Bank, Qatar’s third-largest lender by assets, on Tuesday reported a huge 345 percent jump in first-quarter net profit, beating analysts’ forecasts as provisions for bad loans halved.

The bank earned a net profit of 405 million riyals ($111 million) in the three months to March 31, it said in a statement, against 91 million riyals in the same period last year.

The average forecast from three analysts polled by Reuters was for a quarterly profit of 329.5 million riyals.

Until last year Commercial Bank had been setting aside additional provisions to cover bad debt linked to troubles facing some of its overseas investments, as well as cutbacks in state and consumer spending in Qatar.

The bank’s first-quarter net provisions for loans and advances dropped by 53.7 percent year on year. Growth was also helped by a 13 percent rise in loans and advances thanks to demand from the public sector, as well as from the services and industrial sectors.

It is the fourth major Qatari bank to report earnings for the period. Qatar National Bank and Masraf Al Rayan posted results broadly in line with forecasts, while Qatar Islamic Bank beat estimates.

Qatari banks have sought to diversify funding sources since a political dispute erupted in June last year between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Commercial Bank this month said it had borrowed $250 million through a loan syndicated in the Asian market and last month said it had received shareholder approval to launch a global medium-term bond programme of up to $2 billion in U.S. markets. ($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals) (Reporting by Tom Arnold Editing by David Goodman)

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