Qatar Foundation to buy major stake in Ahli Bank

January 11, 2013 - 5:55:39 am

DOHA: Ahli United Bank, Bahrain’s largest listed lender, has agreed to sell its influential stake in Qatar’s Ahli Bank (ABQ) to Qatar Foundation (QF).

The sale of 37,374,000 shares will be effective once the bank gets the approval from the shareholders’ extra-ordinary general assembly meeting to be held in the coming days, a Qatar Exchange filing noted yesterday.

Shares in ABQ surged 8.32 percent yesterday. 

Ahli Bank Qatar is involved in banking and investment services through a network of 17 branches in Qatar providing a full array of products and services within major business segments: corporate banking, treasury and investments, retail and private banking and wealth management. 

Having a strategic partnership with Ahli United Bank, which is present in eight countries — Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Oman, Iraq, Libya and the United Kingdom  — the bank has a unique advantage as it is able to serve its customers in those markets. The Bank has affirmed as A- (Stable) by Fitch ratings and Capital Intelligence. 

“No price was given but the stake would have been worth QR1.93bn ($530.2m) at Wednesday’s QR51.70 closing price,” Reuters reported.

Ahli Bank, Qatar’s seventh-largest lender by market value, had said in November its strategic partner would offload its holding and that the proposed sale was being reviewed by the Qatar Central Bank. 

The purchase by a Qatari sovereign fund not known for investments in the financial sector could indicate a lack of interest among other commercial banks, Reuters quoted a Dubai-based banker as saying.

“It was always a question of how much control you could exercise with a 30 percent stake. Qatar is already a very over-banked nation and if you don’t have majority ownership, there is little you could do there,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Peninsula