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Sat 19 Sep 2015 03:07 PM

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Qatar's QNB hails Saudi decision to grant banking licence

CEO of Gulf's largest lender says move by Saudii Council of Ministers is 'milestone' in QNB's expansion plans

Qatar's QNB hails Saudi decision to grant banking licence

The Gulf's largest lender has welcomed Saudi Arabia's approval to plans to open its first branch in the kingdom.

The Saudi Council of Ministers granted a licence for Qatar National Bank to open a branch on Monday, in what would be its first licence awarded to a Qatari lender.

The announcement came less than a week after Qatar's central bank announced it would grant licences to fellow Gulf Cooperation Council banks to open branches, adding to the one Gulf lender - Dubai-based Mashreq - out of seven existing foreign institutions operating there.

QNB Group CEO Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari said in a statement: "The approval of the Saudi Cabinet to license the Group represents a milestone in QNB's journey and strategy to expand in selected markets, especially that Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most important markets that leads the Arab economies and one of the most effective and influencing markets in the world."

He added: "The banking sector in the kingdom enjoys a solid infrastructure and provides a healthy competitive environment with its well-established financial institutions. QBN Group - with its expertise and large network covering three continents - is delighted to be an active part of this promising Saudi market."

Out of the 12 foreign banks licensed to operate in Saudi Arabia, five are Gulf lenders - two from Bahrain and one each from Kuwait, the UAE and Oman. Other foreign lenders include JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.

The move signals a further thaw in Saudi-Qatari relations, which have warmed in the past year following long-standing political disagreements over regional security.

QNB Group is currently present through its subsidiaries and associate companies in more than 27 countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe with a staff of more than 14,900.

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