Qatar National Bank (QNB), the country’s largest bank, has reported a 15 per cent rise in full year profits for 2009, to QR4.2bn ($1.15bn).

The growth in profits in the fourth quarter of the year was particularly strong, rising by 65 per cent to QR1.07bn.

Interest income and income from other financing activities rose by 31.4 per cent in 2009, compared to 2008. The bank also reported an 8.7 per cent increase in loans and advances to QR108.8bn and an increase in deposits of 20.7 per cent over the course of the year to QR125.9bn.

Total assets held by the bank rose to QR179.3bn at the end of 2009, 18 per cent higher than at the end of 2008.

Qatari banks have been spared the need to make large provisions for bad debts that many other banks in the region have made, because the Qatari government has spent over $6bn buying bank shares and has also bought up their under-performing real estate and local equity portfolios.