National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), the largest Kuwaiti bank and the highest-rated in the Middle East, reported net profits of USD 450.3 million (KD 128.5 million) for the first half of 2013 compared with USD 423.2 million (KD 120.8 million) for the same period in 2012, up 6.4% year-on-year (YoY), said board chairman Muhammad al-Bahar in a press statement today. As of end of June 2013, NBK Group\'s total assets reached USD 62.8 billion (KD 17.9 billion) up 25.3% compared to June 2012, while total shareholders\' equity increased by 3.9% YoY to USD 8.4 billion (KD 2.4 billion), he said. Ibrahim Dabdoub, NBK\'s Group Chief Executive Officer said that \"NBK continued to deliver solid performance despite the slow pace of economic activity so far this year. NBK\'s conservative management practices and its strong financial position helped the bank sustain its profitability and resilient market position\". He added : \"NBK continues to focus on core banking activities in and outside Kuwait. The recent increase of our stake in Boubyan Bank to 58.4% strengthened our presence in the Islamic banking market and contributed to our operating income. In the 1H2013, net operating income grew 18.3% YoY to USD 1, 095 million.\" Dabdoub also highlighted that domestically the overall outlook started improving. \"We have started witnessing some acceleration in the tendering, award and execution of some of the large projects. \"During the second quarter NBK led several large financing transactions in the Kuwaiti market relating to public and private sector projects, an indication of the overall improvement in the economic outlook and business sentiment,\" Dabdoub added. NBK continues to enjoy collectively the highest ratings among all banks in the Middle East from the three international rating agencies Moody\'s, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor\'s. The Bank\'s ratings are supported by its high capitalization, prudent lending policies, and its disciplined approach to risk management, in addition to its highly recognized and very stable management team. NBK was also named among Global Finance\'s list of the 50 safest banks in the world for the seventh consecutive time. NBK continues to enjoy the widest banking presence with an international network reaching 170 branches worldwide. NBK\'s international presence spans many of the world\'s leading financial centers including London, Paris, Geneva, New York and Singapore, as well as China (Shanghai). Meanwhile, regional coverage extends to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey.