January 31, 2019 / 1:35 PM / 6 months ago

First Abu Dhabi Bank to raise foreign shareholder limit

DUBAI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, beat analysts’ forecasts with a 4 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday and said it planned to raise its foreign ownership limit.

FAB said it proposed to its board increasing its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from 25 percent, the latest Abu Dhabi bank hoping to attract foreign investors after Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank lifted its foreign ownership limit to 25 percent in November.

After a mixed year for UAE stock markets in 2018, analysts say moves by companies to raise foreign ownership limits could help boost investor appetite in 2019.

A jump in foreign exchange and investment income, coupled with a drop in impairment charges, drove up profit to 2.93 billion dirhams ($798 million), FAB said in a statement.

The result was ahead of the average forecast of four analysts polled by Refinitiv who expected the bank to make a net profit of 2.55 billion dirhams.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates benefited from a rise in interest rates in 2018 and that has been reflected in generally positive fourth-quarter earnings. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) (Reporting By Tom Arnold; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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