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Sun 15 Apr 2007 07:52 PM

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Doha's Al-Khaliji bank opens IPO

The $329.7m offering comes as part of plans to raise about $1bn to set up a bank with operations across the Gulf.

Doha-based Al-Khaliji bank said on Sunday it had opened a 1.2 billion riyal ($329.7 million) initial public offering as part of plans to raise about $1 billion to set up a bank with operations across the Gulf.

The IPO, open only to Qatari nationals, would end on April 29, Al Khaliji said in a statement. The bank is offering a 17% stake, or 120 million shares, for 10 riyals each.

The bank will start operations by the fourth quarter and plans to open branches in other Gulf markets, Al-Khaliji Chairman Tariq al-Malki told Reuters in an interview.

"The economy is expanding very rapidly. We hope we will have a share of this expansion and of the existing market," Malki said.

The lender plans to offer retail, corporate and investment banking services, Malki said, adding it would seek to compete with Qatar National Bank, the country's largest lender by market value, and other smaller players.

Qatar, the world's third-largest holder of natural gas reserves, plans to invest $75 billion in its oil and gas industry during the next five years, Qatar's energy minister, Abdullah al-Attiya, said this month.

"We will avoid the overbanked areas and concentrate on gaps. With the capital we will have of $1 billion, we can compete," Malki said.

Investors can apply for a maximum of 5,000 shares, the bank said, adding that investors would pay half the par value of the shares upfront.

Al-Khaliji shares would likely list on the Doha Securities Market within two months of the IPO, and the bank would also seek to list shares in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, Malki said.

The bank's 191 founding shareholders own 43% of the lender, while 40% of the lender's shares are being sold in a private placement to other Gulf Arab investors.

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