By Eric Knecht
DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank (QNB), the Gulf's largest lender, reported a 3.8 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, broadly in line with analysts' forecasts.
Net profit in the three months to March 31 was 3.56 billion riyals ($978 million), the bank said in a statement, compared with 3.43 billion riyals in the corresponding period of 2018.
EFG Hermes forecast a higher net profit of 3.71 billion riyals, while SICO Bahrain's estimate was marginally lower at 3.51 billion riyals.
QNB, which took over Turkey's Finansbank in 2016, said asset growth was helped by a 5 percent rise in loans and advances, even though the devaluation of the Turkish lira partly affected its assets and liabilities.
"Despite the devaluation impact, QNB's strong asset liability management capabilities helped QNB Group to improve its loans to deposits ratio to 98.3 percent as at 31 March 2019," the statement said.
QNB, which is 50 percent owned by Qatar's sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, said customer deposits for the first quarter grew by 5 percent to 634 billion riyals while operating revenues edged up to 6.2 billion riyals from 6.1 billion.
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.
Qatari banks have since widened their funding sources, opting for private placements in different currencies, alongside more traditional public bond issues.
In March QNB closed a three-year 2 billion euro syndicated loan and issued $1 billion worth of U.S. dollar denominated bonds.
($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals)
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Kirsten Donovan)