Dubai: First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the biggest lender in the UAE, plans to issue $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) to $4 billion in bonds in 2019, the group chief financial officer said on Monday.

James Burdett told reporters that the bank expects high single-digit loan growth in 2019, while the bank’s profit will be in the mid-single digit range after it reported a 10 per cent rise in annual profit in 2018.

The bank held its General Assembly Meeting (GAM) Monday at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. During the meeting, the distribution of 74 per cent cash dividends (74 fils per share) for the financial year ended 31 December 2018 were approved for registered, entitled shareholders. Owners of FAB shares registered on Thursday, 7 March 2019 (i.e. buyers on Tuesday, 5 March 2019) are entitled to cash dividends.

Shareholders also approved FAB’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018 in addition to the bank’s proposition to increase its foreign ownership limit from 25 per cent to 40 per cent, subject to regulatory approvals.

In 2018, FAB registered a strong set of financial results in the second year (post-merger). The bank had reported a full-year 2018 group net profit of Dh12 billion, up 10 per cent year-on-year from Dh10.9 billion in 2017. For the fourth quarter, the bank posted a net profit of Dh2.93 billion compared to Dh2.82 billion in the same quarter in 2017.