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Sun 4 Sep 2016 04:26 PM

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Qatar National Bank to open Cuba office

Move is in line with strategy to expand into selected countries

Qatar National Bank to open Cuba office

Qatar National Bank (QNB), the GCC’s largest listed lender, said on Sunday it would open a representative office in Cuba, according to Reuters.

It would make QNB the first institution from the GCC to open in .

The government-controlled bank has obtained regulatory approvals needed to open the office, in line with its strategy of expanding in selected countries, the bank said without elaborating.

Foreign banks have been reluctant to enter Cuba partly because of the risk of being found in violation of US economic sanctions, which can bring heavy fines.

The Cuban central bank's website lists only 10 representative offices of foreign banks in the country.

But in March, as part of a U.S. opening to Cuba, Washington removed a barrier to business by making it legal for U.S. banks to participate in so-called U-turn transactions, in which dollar payments can pass through a U.S. bank as long as the two parties on either end of the deal are non-U.S. entities.

With economic growth in the Gulf slowing because of low oil and gas prices, big banks in the region are keen to grow abroad. Last week QNB, which has a presence in over 30 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said it had obtained approval to open a branch in India.

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