By Satish Kanady
DOHA: The Qatar First Bank (QFB) yesterday announced that it will go for listing on the Qatari bourse once it gets the regulatory approval. “We are all set for listing. We have been waiting for the regulatory nod for long,” QFB Chairman Abdullah bin Fahad bin Ghorab Al Marri (pictured) said yesterday.
Talking to The Peninsula, Al Marri said the bank has completed all the mandatory regulatory procedures that it was supposed to do ahead of the listing. “We have been waiting for their approval for long. I am sorry to say that we are not getting the right support from the regulatory body,” Al Marri said.
The Shariah-compliant bank active in private equity investments was planning a listing on the local bourse since 2012. It had also announced its decision to hire Credit Suisse as a financial adviser. Expressing his dismay over the delay in getting the approval from Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA), Al Marri said the bank is committed to its shareholders with the promise of sound returns and are continuing our work to develop new areas of growth, including the commercial bank operations.
QFB has invested a total of QR2.1bn in 18 transactions since inception, in different sectors and across geographies spanning a broader GCC, MENA, Turkey and UK. The investments cover broad sectors including energy, financial services, industrials, real estate and healthcare.
The QFB in its fifth full year of operation, invested a total of QR244m in 2013. Of this, 22.2 percent investment is in the health sector. Energy and financial sector account for 18.3 percent each and 8.9 percent investment is in the real estate sector.
Addressing the annual and extraordinary general assembly meeting yesterday, Al Marri noted the Bank took steps to enhance its liquidity position and shareholder base by increasing its authorised capital by 25 percent to QR2.5bn. The funds are aimed at facilitating further growth in the asset base and as well as positioning the bank for the full operations of its commercial banking business. He also announced that its capital of QR2bn was fully subscribed in the financial year 2013.
In line with the capital increase, the bank made clarifications to its local and foreign ownership limits in its Articles which would benefit any future placements of new shares. These steps would further strengthen the bank’s commitment and preparedness for its participation in Qatar Exchange by attracting a wider spectrum of local and foreign shareholders in line with the upgrade of Qatar Exchange to ‘emerging market’ status, Al Marri said.
QFB’s Chairman said: “Despite the economic backdrop in 2013, Qatar witnessed a great economic ascendency, boosted by well-planned diversification of economic resources, development of diverse energy portfolio and support of the financial sector. During the year, QFB continued to surge ahead with key developments across all business lines. QFB’s year-on-year growth over the past five years is a clear testament to our prudent strategy that has propelled the bank towards becoming a regional Shari’ah-compliant financial institution.”
“Our long-term prospects remain solid, driven by strong fundamentals, and we are committed to continuing to provide our investors and clients with well-structured products and a world class service from an independent, experienced Islamic bank.”
Ahmad Meshari, QFB Acting Chief Executive Officer, said: “During 2013, we focused our efforts on developing our commercial banking activities building on our successful model in investment banking. Our investment line of business continued to perform well in line with our expectations as our portfolio companies posted positive results.”
The AGM/Extraordinary meeting approved all the items in the agenda including the distribution of 8 percent of paid up share capital to QFB shareholders.