September 18, 2018 / 10:01 AM / 3 months ago

Qatar National Bank in talks to refinance 2.25 bln euro loan - sources

DUBAI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank, the largest bank by assets in the Middle East and Africa, is in discussions with lenders to refinance a 2.25 billion euro syndicated loan, sources familiar with the matter said.

QNB, which is 50 percent owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, is a regular borrower in the international syndicated loan market. Over the past three years it has raised over $7 billion in loans.

But a diplomatic crisis which erupted in the Gulf last year has made some international lenders more cautious about their exposure to Qatari entities, several sources told Reuters over the past year.

The new deal would replace a 2.25 billion euro-denominated loan obtained in May 2016 which matures in May next year. Talks are at an early stage, said the sources.

The transaction is likely to involve the same group of banks that took part in the original deal in 2016, one of the sources said. The consortium included Credit Agricole, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ING Bank, Societe Generale and UniCredit, according to Thomson Reuters data.

QNB, which declined to comment on the discussions, raised its latest public syndicated loan in February, borrowing $3.5 billion from a group of 21 banks.

The deal was seen by many as a test of lenders’ appetite for Qatar risk after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar last year. They accused it of backing terrorism, something Doha denies.

It was “a reflection of the strong demand by the top tier global banks that want to continue to partner with QNB,” chief executive Ali al-Kuwari said at the time.

Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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