QNB's total assets increased by 20.9% from December 2012 to reach QR443bn, the highest ever achieved by the group. By Pratap John /Chief Business Reporter Board recommends 70% cash dividend at QR7 Registering growth across all portfolios of its business, QNB Group posted a record net profit of QR9.5bn in 2013, up 13.7% on 2012. The bank's total assets increased by 20.9% from December 2012 to reach QR443bn, the highest ever achieved by the group. This was the result of a strong growth rate of 24.3% in loans and advances to reach QR311bn, QNB said yesterday. QNB's prudent cost control policy and strong revenue generating capability allowed it to maintain an efficiency ratio (cost to income) of 20.4%, which is considered "one of the best ratios" among financial institutions in the region, according to a statement. Doha -based QNB, "Mena's largest bank" was able to maintain the ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.6%, a level considered one of the lowest amongst banks in the Middle East and Africa , reflecting the high quality of the group's loan book and the effective management of credit risk. The group's conservative policy on provisioning continued with the coverage ratio reaching 123% in December 2013 . At the same time, QNB increased customer funding by 24.3% to QR336bn and led to the group's loan to deposit ratio reaching 93%. In order to diversify its source of funds, in April QNB successfully completed a bond issuance under its Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme in the international capital markets. Under this, a $1bn tranche was issued in April 2013 with a seven-year maturity and an attractive coupon rate of 2.875%. In October, QNB completed its highly successful dual tranche (US dollar) bond amounting to $1.5bn under its EMTN programme in the international capital markets. Under this programme, two tranches were issued. QNB Group's total equity increased by 12% from December 2012 to reach QR54bn in December 2013 . Earnings per share reached QR13.5 compared with QR11.9 in December 2012 . The capital adequacy ratio (CAR) stood at 15.6% in December 2013 , higher than the regulatory requirements of the Qatar Central Bank and the Basel Committee. The group said it is keen to maintain a strong capitalisation in order to support future strategic plans. As a result of QNB Group's "high credit ratings and outstanding asset quality", it was selected as one of the "world's 50 safest financial institutions" by Global Finance. QNB Group tops the list in the Bloomberg Markets magazine's annual ranking of the "World's Strongest Banks". 2012 was the first time QNB was included in the list of eligible banks (78 banks globally) as a result of achieving more than $100bn of assets. QNB opened a representative office in China and established a fully-owned subsidiary, QNB India Private Limited . Based on the group's continuous strong performance and the expanding international presence, the bank is currently ranked as the "most valuable brand" in the Mena ( Middle East and North Africa region, with a world ranking of 120. With the addition of QNB Alahli ( Egypt ), the new subsidiary in India and the new office in China , QNB Group's presence through its subsidiaries and associate companies increased to some 26 countries providing a comprehensive range of products and services. The total number of staff is more than 13,600, operating from 590 locations and with an ATM network of more than 1,240 machines. QNB's board of directors has recommended to the bank's general assembly the distribution of a cash dividend of 70% of the nominal share value, which translates into QR7 per share. The cash dividend recommendation has been "based on the strong financial results for 2013 and consistent with QNB Group's aim of maximising returns to shareholders", QNB said yesterday. The financial results for 2013 along with the profit distribution are subject to the Qatar Central Bank approval, the bank said.
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