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$550m BOND TO BOOST CAP

CBQ eyes local bank tie-ups to fund infrastructure

Dubai, December 16, 2013

Commercial Bank of Qatar is open to tie-ups with local financial institutions and could sell bonds next year to fund infrastructure lending in the Gulf Arab state, its recently appointed chief executive was quoted as saying.

The lender, which earlier this year completed the purchase of a 74.2 percent stake in Turkey's Alternatifbank, is also open to further foreign acquisitions but will wait to see the performance of the Turkish business before deciding on new deals, Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi told the Qatar Tribune.

He did not specify what kind of tie-up with local institutions the bank would seek. Mergers between banks in Qatar, like much of the Gulf Arab region, are extremely rare as majority shareholders - often powerful local families - are reluctant to cede control except for extremely high valuations.

The last merger attempt in Qatar, between Al Khaliji Commercial Bank and International Bank of Qatar, collapsed in June 2011 after more than a year of negotiations as the two parties couldn't agree terms.

Qatari banks have recorded strong lending and profit growth in recent years, thanks to huge government spending on improving infrastructure, and such spending is set to continue as the country prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup.

In total, the country plans to spend about $140 billion in the coming years to build stadiums, roads, railways, a new airport, a seaport and other infrastructure.

Lenders in Qatar including CBQ - which posted loan growth of 34 percent in September compared to the end of 2012 - are expected to play a big role in providing funds for such projects.

Raisi said one option to help the bank raise cash to support the projects was the bond market, and this "may happen in the coming year", the report said.

CBQ already has plans to sell a 2 billion riyal ($549 million) bond this month to local investors to help boost its capital reserves, which were depleted by high lending growth and the impact of the Alternatifbank purchase.

Raisi was named chief executive of CBQ in August, with former head Andrew Stevens moving to the post of group CEO with a focus on the bank's international operations. – Reuters




Tags: Commercial Bank of Qatar | CBQ | bond sale | Alternatifbank |

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