Doha Bank mulling acquisition in emerging market

Qatari lender may ink deal before close of 2012 in bid to expand operations, says CEO
Doha Bank mulling acquisition in emerging market
Doha Bank CEO Raghavan Seetharaman said the lender will open in Saudi by the year-end
By Bloomberg
Mon 07 Nov 2011 08:06 AM

Doha
Bank QSC, Qatar’s fifth-largest lender by market value, may make an acquisition
before the end of 2012 as part of a broader plan to expand, chief executive officer
Raghavan Seetharaman said.

“It
could be in Turkey, it could be emerging markets, we are looking at other
options,” Seetharaman said in an interview in Dubai Sunday. “We are going to
grow, and it’s a goal in line with the overall financial stability of Qatar.

Qatar,
the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, forecasts its economy
may expand by about 16 percent this year, helped by fuel exports. Doha Bank
reported a 10 percent jump in third-quarter profit last month as fee and
commission income increased. Qatar National Bank SAQ, the country’s largest lender,
had a 31 percent increase in the period.

The Doha
Bank intends to start operations Saudi Arabia and India and plans a non-deal
investor roadshow for December, Seetharaman said.

‘‘We are
looking at options for senior or subordinated debt,” Seetharaman said. The
company would consider raising at least $500m in senior debt depending on
market opportunities, he said.

The
bank, which obtained approval to start operations in Abu Dhabi last month, also
plans to start brokerage operations in January and an asset management business
by the end of 2012, Seetharaman said.

The
company hasn’t ruled out a sale of its Islamic banking unit or investment in
Shariah-based finance after Qatar’s central bank said in February that
non-Shariah compliant banks should close Islamic branches by year end,
Seetharaman said.

Qatar’s
market will likely get emerging market status at MSCI Inc. in December, he
predicted.

“If you
look at the long-term fundamentals of the country and the overall growth
prospects, we should expose the Qatar exchange to the global market,”
Seetharaman said.

MSCI,
whose stock indexes are tracked by investors with about $3 trillion in assets,
said in June it delayed its decision on whether to raise the United Arab
Emirates and Qatar to emerging-market status until December.

Doha
Bank shares have dropped 2.2 percent this year compared with a 9.4 percent
decline in the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index.

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