September 26, 2019 / 1:09 PM / 21 days ago

Qatar National Bank gets approval for first Hong Kong branch

DOHA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Qatar National Bank, the biggest lender in the Gulf region, is to open its first branch in Hong Kong, it said on Thursday, part of its plans to boost international operations.

Banks in Qatar have had to cope with the country’s more than two-year dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt which has cut once thriving business ties with Gulf neighbours. The bloc accuses Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

QNB, which received approval for the branch from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said it would provide a full range of banking products and services and that the launch was part of an international expansion plan to establish a foothold in key markets like Hong Kong and mainland China.

“Growth in both Hong Kong and China is expected to continue, driven by trade opportunities, direct investments, and large infrastructure spending opportunities,” said Abdulla Mubarak Al-Khalifa, QNB Group Acting CEO.

“The Hong Kong branch offers the opportunity to leverage QNB’s in-depth expertise to capture investment and trade flows in this promising market,” said Khalifa.

Qatar has largely shrugged off the Gulf boycott, with non-resident bank deposits largely restored following an initial flight of about $30 billion just after the boycott kicked off in mid-2017.

QNB, which is 50% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, posted a 4% increase in first-half net profit in July. (Reporting by Eric Knecht. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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