Middle East's biggest bank, QNB, aims to double foreign investor limit

Middle East's biggest bank QNB aims to double foreign investor limit

Middle East's biggest bank QNB aims to double foreign investor limit

MidEast shares were mixed, with Qatar surging after Qatar National Bank said it would raise its ceiling for foreign ownership. Foreign investors now own about 7 percent of QNB, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares in some other government-affiliated Qatari companies with 25% foreign ownership limits also surged on expectations they would take the same action, Reuters noted.

Qatar National Bank has been looking to tap new sources of funding amid a blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. QNB has absorbed the impact of the standoff and is pushing ahead with an expansion into Southeast Asia, Chief Executive Officer Ali Al-Kuwari told Bloomberg in January. The biggest, Saudi Basic Industries, added 1.2 percent and Saudi Industrial Investment Group, which had jumped 9.9 percent on Sunday after reporting annual profit increased more than ten-fold, rose a further 7.5 percent.

QNB, Qatar's largest lender, is all set to allow higher up to 49% foreign ownership limit (FOL) in its capital, a move that gives more visibility for the bank in the worldwide arena.

Increasing QNB's foreign ownership limit could lift the bank's weight within benchmarks compiled by MSCI Inc. and FTSE Russell and attract around $870 million in inflows into the stock, according to Mohamad Al Hajj, a strategist at the research arm of EFG-Hermes Holding.