Doha Bank mulls Asia acquisitions, may sell shares

NEW YORK — Doha Bank Ltd., Qatar's fourth-largest bank by market value, may seek acquisitions in Asia and may sell shares to raise funds for expansion.

By (Bloomberg)

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Published: Sat 22 Sep 2007, 9:07 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:43 PM

Doha Bank opened representative offices in Tokyo and Shanghai this year targeting investment by Asian companies in Qatar. The bank also has an office in Singapore and wants to expand elsewhere, its chief executive said.

"An acquisition is always on the cards and that includes a listed company,'' Doha Bank Chief Executive Officer Raghavan Seetharaman said in an interview in Tokyo. "China and India are emerging markets, and sitting on the subcontinent we know there are potential growth opportunities.''

Doha Bank is seeking to capitalise on increased trade between the Middle East and Asia, home to some of the world's fastest-growing economies. China and India enjoyed GDP growth of 11.9 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in the most recentquarter. Qatar's economy expanded by a quarter last year, driving expansion in financial services.

Qatar's economy will double in size to about $100 billion over the next five years as the Arabian Gulf emirate invests in infrastructure, Finance Minister Yousef Hussain Kamal said in February. Doha Bank expects revenue contribution from overseas offices to rise to 25 per cent by the middle of 2008 from about 15 per cent at the start of this year.

Rival Qatar National Bank SAQ, the country's biggest lender, said this week it will sell shares to existing shareholders that may raise as much as 5.06 billion riyals ($1.39 billion) as it seeks funds for expansion.

Seetharaman said his expansion plans may lead the bank to sell shares.

"Yes, logically we are growing, so we might, why not? The entire Middle East is growing,'' said Seetharaman, commenting on a possible share issue.

Seetharaman is in Asia this week to look for partners in Singapore and Japan, including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., to set up a carbon-credits exchange. Doha Bank plans to form the Arabian Gulf's first carbon-credits exchange in 2009 to tap rising demand for emissions trading.

The global emissions trading market more than doubled to $30 billion last year, according to Point Carbon, a Norway-based research firm.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations started managing the Clean Development Mechanism, which encourages developing nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by earning carbon credits that can be bought and traded by companies in industrialised nations.

Japan, the world's largest importer of liquid natural gas, is Qatar's largest trade partner, accounting for more than a third of the country's $10.8 billion in total trade in 2005. Bilateral trade between Qatar and China increased fivefold to almost $2 billion in 2006 from $389 million two years earlier, according to data from Doha Bank.

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