French bank Credit Agricole is to close its office in Bahrain and move its staff to Dubai, International Financing Review (IFR) said on Sunday, in a blow to the Gulf kingdom's status as a regional banking hub following widespread unrest.
"While sources said that the move has been talked about for some time, they admitted that the unrest which affected the country earlier this year did have some impact on the decision," said IFR, a Thomson Reuters service.
"However, while there have been rumours of potential departures, until now, the flow of financial institutions away from the island has been minimal at most," IFR said in a briefing, adding that Credit Agricole did not respond to a request for comment.
Bahrain, a small non-OPEC oil producer was thrown into turmoil in February when protesters, mostly majority Shi'ites, took to the streets demanding democratic reforms in the Sunni-ruled state.
The island state's worst unrest since the 1990s was put down in March in a government crackdown that called in troops and police from neighbouring Arab countries.
Earlier in August, Fitch Ratings removed Bahrain from a negative rating watch following the lifting of a state of emergency, after a similar ratings action by Standard & Poor's.
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