Fitch Affirms Seven Qatari Banks at 'A+'; QNB at 'AA-'

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Qatar National Bank's Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at 'AA-'. The agency has also affirmed the IDRs of The Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, Al Khalij Commercial Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank and Ahli Bank and International Bank of Qatar at 'A+'. The Outlooks on all the Long-Term IDRs are Stable. Fitch has also upgraded International Bank of Qatar's Viability Rating, which is driven by its growth strategy, focusing almost exclusively on Qatar.

'Greater Paris' woos Qatari investors

Paris is wooing potential Qatari investors to be the part of a huge infrastructure development project, 'Greater Paris', to which the government of France has already committed €50bn. Chiara Corazzara, Managing Director of the Greater Paris Investment Agency said the state-sponsored investment in infrastructures is designed to trigger €80bn private investment and the response that they get from Qatari investors is really encouraging.

Qatar’s new insurance instructions credit positive: Moody’s

The recent instructions issued by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) for insurers operating in Qatar are credit positive. These instructions are related to licensing, regulations and controls, risk management, accounting and actuaries reports. The instructions include prudential requirements and took effect this month. Insurers that will benefit from the new law include the largest Qatari insurance groups: Damaan Islamic Insurance Company, Qatar Insurance Company, Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Company, Doha Insurance Company, Al Khaleej Takaful Group and Qatar Islamic Insurance Company.

Qatar helps Bill Gates tackle poverty with $50 million pledge

Qatar has teamed up with American billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates to combat poverty. Representatives from the Qatar Development Fund pledged $50 million to the Lives and Livelihood Fund, a $2.5 billion fund established by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank, in an effort to provide financing for some of the world’s poorest Muslim countries through grants and shariah-compliant loans at below market rates. The fund’s projects will focus on four areas including infectious diseases control and eradication, primary healthcare, agriculture and food security, and basic infrastructure.

Qatar tops Middle East in penetration of Islamic insurance

The Islamic insurance penetration in Qatar far exceeded that in the Middle East, where lack of differentiation and associated pricing pressure, along with poor distribution networks, are key challenges for the takaful companies, though the region made the early moves to establish Islamic insurance, according to A M Best. The overall penetration figures for the Middle East mask underlying differences between various countries in the region with Bahrain and Qatar both enjoying good takaful penetration rates of 22% and 13%, respectively compared to the Middle Eastern average of 8% in 2014, A M Best said in a report ‘Takaful Life and Nonlife Issue Review’.

Qatar International Islamic Bank plans Tier 1 Sukuk issue

In a statement to Qatar Stock Exchange on 30 March, it was revealed that Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) is planning a Sukuk issue of up to QAR 3 billion. The bank’s General Assembly gave the nod to the extension of its approval to issue Additional Tier 1 Sukuk nonconvertible into ordinary shares of up to QAR 3 billion. The meeting delegated the bank’s board of directors' to decide the size of each issuance ,terms and conditions and issuance currency. QIIB CEO Abdulbasit A al-Shaibei was quoted as saying the Sukuk would be issued before the end of April to boost the bank’s capital ratio.

QInvest LLC acquires ERGO Portfoy and launches QInvest Portfoy

QInvest L.L.C. has announced the acquisition of ERGO Portfoy, one of the largest and fastest growing asset management companies in Turkey. Following the completion of this acquisition, QInvest Asset Management will have assets under management close to $1 billion. ERGO Portfoy has been rebranded as QInvest Portfoy and is a subsidiary of Qatar’s QInvest. The senior management of QInvest Portfoy will remain with the firm and will be led by Mr. Murat Vanli, the General Manager of ERGO Portfoy, and will continue to operate from Istanbul. The company has been granted its license to operate by The Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) and is licenced to offer portfolio management to both individual and institutional investors.

Qatar International Islamic Bank preparing 1 bln riyal sukuk issue

Qatar International Islamic Bank is in the advanced stages of preparing to conduct a Tier 1 sukuk issue worth 1 billion riyals ($275 million), it said in a statement on Thursday. The bank said the capital-boosting issue would follow the bank receiving all regulatory approvals. It didn't elaborate.

Barwa Bank appoints group chief operating officer

Barwa Bank has appointed Nasser Rashid Al Humaidi as group chief operating officer. Reporting to the acting GCEO of Barwa Bank Group, Khalid Yousef Al-Subeai, Al-Humaidi will be tasked with developing a unified structure to improve operational efficiency, increase proficiency and modernise processes and procedures, by using the latest financial sector tools. With more than 19 years’ experience in the operations management and information technology sectors, Al-Humaidi has a track record in a number of institutions from different sectors, including telecom, real estate development, oil and gas as well as national steering committees. He worked as the executive director for Operations & Support at Qatar Development Bank for the past three years.

Barwa Bank appoints Nasser Rashid Al Humaidi as Group COO

Qatar’s Barwa Ban has announced the appointment of Mr. Nasser Rashid Al-Humaidi as the Group’s Chief Operating Officer (GCOO). Mr. Al-Humaidi, who will be directly reporting to the Acting GCEO of Barwa Bank Group Mr. Khalid Yousef Al-Subeai, will be developing an integrated structural framework to enhance operational efficiency, boost productivity and streamline processes and procedures by employing the latest financial sector technologies. He is backed up by more than 19 years of experience in the ??operations management and information technology sectors. He worked as the Executive Director for Operations & Support at Qatar Development Bank over the past three years.

Even Qatar's wealthiest are feeling the 'social curse' of living way beyond their means

Generous government salaries and free healthcare, funded by vast natural gas reserves in a country with only about 300,000 citizens, do not always translate into healthy bank balances for ordinary Qataris. Instead, they can come under intense social pressure to live way beyond their means, spending lavishly on everything from the latest smart phones and designer fashions to family weddings. Now their problems are deepening as diving global energy prices mean even the Qatari welfare state is becoming less generous. Many are borrowing enormous sums from local banks to finance lifestyles they cannot afford, according to a study by Qatar University.

Investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa scours Turkey for deals

The First Investor (TFI), the investment banking arm of Qatar’s Barwa Bank, is looking for investments in Turkey, in sectors ranging from real estate to food, its acting chief executive Yousef Al Obaidan said. TFI has not specified a budget for Turkey, although its existing holdings in the Gulf region average around $100-$150 million per investment, Al Obaidan said. Individual investments in Turkey could exceed that, he said. The bank, which is also involved in private equity and asset management, is particularly interested in Turkey’s real estate, healthcare, education and food and beverage industries, Al Obaidan said. TFI is already active in Turkey, where Kiler, a REIT, mandated it in December for the sale of the Istanbul Sapphire shopping center and residence.

Chief Executive of Qatar Islamic Insurance wins Takaful CEO of the year Award

Ali Ibrahim Al-Abdulghani, Chief Executive Officer, of Qatar Islamic Insurance, was awarded the Takaful CEO of the year award in a ceremony held last week during the 10th International Takaful Summit 2016 at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London. This award was presented to him in recognition of his leadership that witnessed the Company grow steadily to the benefit of both shareholders and policyholders alike adding credibility to the Takaful model worldwide as viable alternative to the conventional insurance. Speaking at the occasion, he invited Takaful industry leaders to cooperate in establishing a ReTakaful syndicate at Lloyds of London.

Qatar's Masraf Al Rayan sees 8-10 pct profit growth in 2016 - chairman

Qatar's largest sharia-compliant bank Masraf Al Rayan is expected to post annual profit growth of between 8 and 10 percent in 2016, Chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said at the bank's annual general meeting. Masraf Al Rayan reported last month a 3.6 percent rise in full-year net profit in 2015 to 2.07 billion riyals, although its fourth-quarter earnings dipped slightly. Abdulla said the bank had no plans to issue sukuk, or sharia-compliant bonds, this year as there was no need for additional liquidity. Falling liquidity is expected to be one of the main issues facing banks in the Gulf region in 2016, as governments remove cash on deposit to help replace lost revenue from lower hydrocarbon prices.

Qatar's largest Islamic bank eyes 8-10% growth in 2016

Qatar's largest sharia-compliant bank Masraf Al Rayan is expected to post annual profit growth of between 8 and 10 percent in 2016, Chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said at the bank's annual general meeting. Masraf Al Rayan reported last month a 3.6 percent rise in full-year net profit in 2015 to 2.07 billion riyals, although its fourth-quarter earnings dipped slightly. Abdulla said the bank had no plans to issue sukuk this year as there was no need for additional liquidity. Falling liquidity is expected to be one of the main issues facing banks in the Gulf region in 2016, as governments remove cash on deposit to help replace lost revenue from lower hydrocarbon prices.

Qatar Islamic Bank may use sukuk funding for M&A -chairman

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) could use future sukuk issues to back a potential acquisition, its chairman Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani said, after shareholders approved increasing the amount it could raise from issuing Islamic bonds. The Gulf state's largest sharia-compliant lender won approval at its annual general meeting to double its sukuk programme to $3 billion, as well as retaining the mandate to issue 3 billion riyals ($824 million) to enhance core capital. QIB was fine with its capital reserves at present, its chairman said as the bank had a total capital adequacy ratio of 14.1 percent at the end of December, above a minimum requirement of 12.5 percent.

S&P revises Qatar-Based Insurer Al Khaleej Takaful Group outlook to positive

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has revised its outlook on Qatari insurer Al Khaleej Takaful Group (KTG) to positive from stable. At the same time, the ratings agency affirmed its 'BBB' long-term insurer financial strength and counterparty credit ratings on KTG. The outlook revision follows a significant improvement of KTG's operating performance in 2015, which has strengthened the company's competitive position, said S&P. Last year, KTG reported a stronger combined (loss and expense) ratio of 86 per cent compared with 97 per cent in 2014. This was mainly thanks to organizational changes during 2014 and 2015 that helped optimize the use of resources and enhanced claims management.

Tajikistan keen on Islamic banking; seeks investment from Qatar

Tajikistan is keen to benefit from Islamic banking and utilise the experiences of Islamic banks in his country, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Nematullo Hikmatullozoda has said. Hikmatullozoda, who visited QIIB headquarters yesterday expressed the hope that Tajikistan would be able to attract Islamic banks to his country, where his ministry is making efforts to convince investors about the attractive investment opportunities available. In particular, Tajikistan is keen on expanding and further cementing the relationship with Qatar’s financial and business sectors.

Exclusive: Qatar in talks for sovereign sukuk issue as early as March - sources

The government of Qatar is in talks with banks about a sovereign sukuk issue, sources aware of the matter said on Monday, as the Gulf nation returns to international debt markets to shore up state finances pressured by low energy prices. Bond sales, both in international and loan markets, were identified as the way Qatar would cover its 46.5 billion riyal ($12.8 billion) 2016 deficit, and talks are underway with a small group of banks to select arrangers for the first of these deals, according to three sources with knowledge of the talks. The government may issue the dollar-denominated sukuk as soon as March or April, two of the sources added.

QInvest reports record year, recommends doubling dividends

Qatar’s QInvest has announced another year of robust growth recording its highest revenue since inception of QR393m ($108m) and net profit of QR154m ($42m). QInvest generated consistent performance throughout 2015 despite challenging global economic conditions and regional volatility, culminating in an increase in both revenues and net profit of 32 percent and 76 percent respectively. The bank recommends doubling the dividend to shareholders for financial year 2015. The team is involved in a number of buy-side and sell-side mandates across multiple industries and geographies for both family offices and institutional investors. In the real estate sector, the business is at various stages of execution and completion on income generating transactions in London, elsewhere in Western Europe and in the USA.

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