National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest Kuwaiti bank, reported net profits of USD 844 million (KD 238.1 million) for the year 2013 compared with USD 1.082 million (KD 305.1 million) in 2012. Adjusting for the USD 289 million (KD 81.5 million) exceptional gains recognized in 2012 on the consolidation of Boubyan Bank, net profits recorded a 6.5% year on year growth, an NBK report said Wednesday. As of end of 2013, NBK Group's total assets reached USD 66.0 billion (KD 18. 6 billion) up 12.8% compared to year-end 2012, while total shareholders' equity increased by 3.3% year on year to USD 8.4 billion (KD 2.37 billion). Loans and advances reached USD 37.9 billion (KD 10.7 billion) at year-end 2013 up 8.5% compared to year-end 2012 and customer deposits reached USD 37.1 billion (KD 10.5 billion), up 10.2% compared to last year. Asset quality ratios continued to improve with Non-performing loans (NPL) to gross loans ratio dropping to 1.96% in year-end 2013 from 2.75% in 2012 and NPL coverage ratio increasing to 200% at year-end 2013 from 157% last year. NBK's board of directors has recommended a cash dividend of 30 fils per share (30% of the par value) and 5% bonus shares. Ibrahim Dabdoub, NBK's Group Chief Executive Officer said "NBK's profits for the year affirm the group's strong financial position, market leadership and its conservative strategy, all contributing to the high credit ratings ahead of regional and international financial institutions." Despite the challenges in the corporate domestic market and the political instability in some of the regional markets, the bank managed to deliver a strong set of results. "We continued to focus on core banking business across our locations. In the year 2013, excluding the exceptional gain recognized last year, NBK's net operating income grew by 10.2% year on year to USD 2,220 million (KD 626.3 million)," Dabdoub added.