(MENAFN - Arab Times) Gulf Bank today announced an operating profit before provisions of KD 109.4 million for the year ending 2013 (including KD 9.8 million of non - recurring income) against KD 121.4 million in 2012 (including KD 25.3 million non-recurring income). Continuing its strategy to build a fortress balance sheet, the Bank increased its precautionary general provisions to KD 158 million. The net profit at KD 32.1 million in 2013 was up 4.1% against KD 30.9 million in 2012. As of end of December 2013, the Bank's total assets were KD 5,064.8 million, deposits stood at KD 4,086.1 million and total shareholders' equity was KD 483.1 million. The Bank maintained its positive trend of reducing the non-performing loan ratio, which decreased from 10.9 % in 2012 to 6.5 % by December 2013 (and to below 6% by January 2014, i.e 'NPL'). Decreasing the NPL ratio is a strategic objective and a key focus area. In addition, the Bank has increased the total coverage ratio of non-performing loans to over 185%
Commenting on the results, Omar Kutayba Alghanim, Gulf Bank's Chairman said: "I am pleased to report the steady progress the Bank has made over the year, particularly with the significant 38 % percentage decrease in non-performing loans and the continued increase in the general precautionary reserves. As we move into the first quarter of 2014, we are committed to successfully implementing our five year growth strategy, as well as focusing on customer-centricity and financial discipline. The Bank has continued its policy of investing in its infrastructure to ensure it hasrobust internal controls in place at all levels of its operations. It is particularly pleasing to note that earlier in 2013, Gulf Bank successfully completed the implementation of its Corporate Governance mandate as required by the Central Bank of Kuwait's regulations, which will ensure accountability, fairness, and transparency in our relationships with all our stakeholders.
"2013 proved to be a good year for Gulf Bank, and I am proud to add that we have increased our branch network to 57 branches across Kuwait. In doing so, we will be closer to our customers, and better able to ensure that they receive the best possible banking services and that these are delivered both swiftly and efficiently. "For 2014, we will maintain our strong focus on the needs of our customers, invest in our staff and develop our customer base. At the same time, we will actively develop new opportunities which will allow us to grow and deliver excellence in corporate and consumer banking services, as well as seek to enhance the Bank's reserves and financial capability
"I would like to thank our staff, customers, shareholders & our Board of Directors for their continued support and loyalty as we continue our development." In 2013, Gulf Bank was recognized as the 'Best Bank in Kuwait' by The Banker, a leading Financial Times owned publication. The Bank also won several other important industry awards across multiple disciplines, including: 'Bank of the Year' from Arabian Business, Best Retail Bank by Asian Banker, and Best Domestic Bank by Banker Middle East