Gulf Bank also reported a modest rise in net profits of 14 per cent to KD 85.4 million ($292.3 million). However, the increase marked a new record. The bank sold its stake in Bank of Bahrain & Kuwait in November 2005 and will use the funds for consumer and corporate lending. ‘This was a mature investment and we decided we could deploy the funds in a more profitable manner,’ says chief executive officer (CEO) Yusef al-Awadi. The bank is developing retail investment products and also plans to expand its branch network to 40 from 35. Burgan Bank was another Kuwaiti institution to report record net profits in 2005, which increased by 43 per cent to KD 42.2 million ($144.5 million). Assets grew by 9 per cent in 2005 and the bank expects to see an improvement in its levels of non-performing assets in 2006. Maintaining the record-breaking trend, Mashreqbank reported a record 131 per cent increase in net profits to AED 1,739 million ($473.5 million) with assets increasing 43 per cent. The bank experienced significant growth in fee, commission and investments income. CEO Abdul-Aziz al-Ghurair said that the pace of economic growth may slow in 2006 and that banks should focus on investing their earnings in business fundamentals.

National Bank of Dubai reported a net profit increase of 18.9 per cent to AED 1,103 million ($300.3 million), pushed by an increase in its retail and corporate loan portfolios. Dubai Bank, which is also expanding its retail and merchant banking businesses, reported net profits of AED 102.8 million ($27.9 million). The bank plans to launch a brokerage business in 2006 after expanding its branch network in 2005 and acquiring an 18.7 per cent stake in Pakistan’s BankIslami.