Qatar's QIB may buy Islamic units of conventional banks

DOHA Tue Feb 8, 2011 5:11am EST

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DOHA Feb 8 (Reuters) - Qatar Islamic Bank QISB.QA (QIB) may snap up the Islamic banking assets of conventional lenders in Qatar, who are facing a central bank order to shut their Islamic operations, a top executive said on Tuesday.

Qatar's central bank this week told conventional banks to close their Islamic operations by year-end, amid worries of overlap between the two, in a surprise move that lifted shares of Islamic lenders. [ID:nLDE71503A]

The central bank gave no direction on whether banks can apply for separate Islamic banking licenses and analysts have said conventional banks may need to sell their Islamic units.

Ahmed Meshari, QIB's acting CEO, told reporters the bank is interested in the assets and predicted that some 100,000 customers would migrate to Islamic banks in the Gulf Arab state as a result of the central bank order.

Meshari also said that QIB, the country's second-largest lender by market value, expects its business to grow 10 percent, buoyed by the new directive.

Analysts project that Qatar National Bank (QNB) QNBK.QA, with Islamic finance representing 11.6 percent of its total assets, will be the most severely impacted if it is forced to quit Islamic banking.

QIB shares were trading down 1.9 percent on the Doha bourse at 0950 GMT. (Reporting by Regan E Doherty, Writing by Dinesh Nair, Editing by Amran Abocar)

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