Qatar National Bank Group, the largest financial institution in the Middle East, has obtained approval to open a representative office in China.
The Qatar-based bank, which posted a net profit of $1.7bn in the first nine months of 2012, said in a statement that it will make its first move into the Chinese market by opening an office in Shanghai.
"This step comes within QNB's strategy to expand its presence abroad in selected countries. By entering the Chinese market, the number of countries where QNB Group operates will increase to 25 countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa," the statement said.
QNB's move follows a similar expansion in by two of the UAE's largest banks late last year.
The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and Emirates NBD both launched their first representative offices in China.
NBAD, which has the largest international presence among all UAE banks, with more than 50 overseas business units located in 14 countries, set up operations in Shanghai while Emirates NBD set up a Beijing office.
QNB Group has steadily grown to be the largest bank in the Middle East and North Africa region and is by far the leading financial institution in the country with a market share exceeding 45 percent of banking sector assets.
QNB's total assets by the end of September 2012 increased by 25.3 percent to reach QR351bn, the highest ever achieved by the Group.
The Group has extended its regional reach by acquiring stakes in various financial institutions recently including a 35 percent stake in the Jordan-based Housing Bank for Trade and Finance (HBTF), 40 percent in the UAE-based Commercial Bank International and 50 percent of the Tunisian-Qatari Bank.
QNB has also acquired a 51 percent interest in the Iraqi-based Mansour Bank, 49 percent of the Libya-based Commerce & Development Bank and a 20 percent stake in Al Jazeera Finance Company in Doha. It also retains a 51 percent stake in QNB-Syria and a 70 percent stake in QNB Kesawan in Indonesia.