By Andy Sambidge
Rapid expansion plan drives bank to become first Arab lender to pass $100bn barrier - data
Qatar National Bank, which is currently on an expansion spree with a number of high profile acquisitions, is set to become the first Arab lender with assets exceeding $100bn, according to new data.
Doha-based QNB said last week that it will pay $1.97bn for 77 percent of National Societe Generale Bank, its latest deal in overseas markets.
The deal will boost the bank’s assets by 11 percent to about $107bn, more than double their value at the end of 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
It said the acquisition will also give the lender, which overtook Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank for the region’s top spot a year ago, a foothold in the Arab nation of more than 83 million.
QNB is also looking to buy a majority stake in one of Turkey’s top 10 banks as part of its expansion strategy, it said last week.
QNB, which is 50 percent owned by the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, has been on an expansion spree, snapping up stakes in regional lenders as it seeks to build an emerging market franchise with the backing of its gas-rich government.
The plan mirrors the drive by Qatar to use a cash windfall from liquefied natural gas to snap up assets worldwide, including London’s Harrods department store and Paris St Germain Football Club.
QNB in October posted a 10.5 increase in third-quarter net profit, driven by increased interest income and a drop in loan impairments.
The bank reported a net profit of QR2.1bn ($577m) for the third quarter, compared with QR1.9bn a year ago.
At the time the bank's total assets grew 25.3 percent during the nine-month period to QR351bn, the highest ever achieved by the group.
Banks in Qatar are expected to benefit as the country is one of the world's fastest-growing economies and set to spend more on infrastructure as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.