Mideast’s biggest lender focuses on South-East Asia to expand


  • ASEAN+
  • Sunday, 19 Jan 2020

Qatar National Bank (QNB) is putting South-East Asia as the focus of its expansion, the chief executive officer of the Middle East’s biggest lender said. - Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: Qatar National Bank (QNB) is putting South-East Asia as the focus of its expansion, the chief executive officer of the Middle East’s biggest lender said.

"Our focus really was the Middle East and then we expanded to South-East Asia where we’re now focusing,” Abdulla Al-Khalifa said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

"If we find the right opportunity for acquisition, we will consider it,” he said, adding there are no deals currently under review.

Lower oil prices are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate and look for business outside their home markets. QNB has been expanding with the purchase of National Bank of Greece SA’s Turkish unit and Societe Generale SA’s Egypt subsidiary. The bank’s regional growth has been curtailed as Qatar has been locked in a standoff with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since mid-2017.

Expanding abroad is part of how the bank will continue growing despite the small scale of Qatar’s local market, Al-Khalifa said. "We know that Qatar, at one point in time, will not be itself sufficient to satisfy our expansion growth, or the growth potential that we have.”

Gas-rich Qatar is home to about 2.8 million people and QNB has roughly half the market share.

The lender reported record profit in 2019, helped by higher interest income.

Al-Khalifa was promoted to QNB’s top job in December after 13 months as acting CEO and more than two decades working for the lender.

The shares have gained 1.7% this year after posting a 5.6% advance in 2019. - Bloomberg
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QNB , South-East Asia , Expansion

   

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