(Corrects exchange rate conversion in paragraph 2)
July 10 (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank, the biggest lender in the Gulf region, posted a 4% increase in first-half net profit as loans grew, it said on Wednesday.
The bank reported a net profit of 7.4 billion qatar riyals ($2 billion) in the six months to June 30, the bank said in a statement, compared with 7.1 billion riyals reported in the corresponding period of 2018.
The second-quarter profit was 3.84 billion riyals, based on a Reuters calculation, compared to 3.7 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier. EFG Hermes had projected a net profit of 3.77 billion riyals in the second quarter.
Loans and advances grew by 5% for the first half of 2019, to reach 634 billion riyals, the bank said, funded by customer deposits which also grew by 5% in the first half of the year.
Qatar has largely shrugged off attempts by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to put pressure on its economy after they cut diplomatic and transport ties in the middle of 2017.
QNB, which is 50% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, took over Turkey’s Finansbank in 2016.
Despite its Turkish business QNB said it had not been severely affected by a currency crisis that saw the Turkish lira lose nearly 30% of its value last year.
“QNB’s strong asset liability management capabilities helped weather the currency headwinds in our core markets, namely Turkey,” the bank said.
QNB closed a three-year 2 billion euro syndicated loan in March and issued $1 billion worth of U.S. dollar denominated bonds. It also issued a $850 Formosa bond in April.
Fitch Ratings said liquidity in Qatar’s banking system had improved since the early stages of the boycott in 2017.
About $24 billion of non-resident deposits and interbank funding have flowed into the system since November 2017, offsetting the $30 billion withdrawn in June-October 2017, Fitch said.
$1 = 3.6575 Qatar riyals Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Edmund Blair