Qatar First Bank to list shares in 2016, launches private banking

DOHA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Qatar First Bank (QFB) plans to list its shares on the Qatar exchange as early as the first quarter of 2016, the chairman of the sharia-compliant financial institution said on Sunday.

“We hope by the end of the first quarter of next year that we will be ready to list. Things are on the right track,” Abdulla al-Marri told journalists at a press conference in Doha.

The firm has long been linked with a flotation, in what would be only the second new listing in Qatar since 2010, although QFB would only put its shares onto the bourse to trade and would raise no new money from the event.

Traditionally focused on wealth and asset management and private equity, targeting investments in energy, real estate and financial services across the Middle East and Africa, QFB was also launching a private banking service, it said on Sunday.

The move was not related to difficulties in its private equity work or economic downturn in the Gulf Arab state, according to the bank’s chief executive.

“We are offering private banking as a service as of today. We are not shifting away from private equity, we are building on it,” said Ziad Makkawi, the veteran banker who was appointed to the role in July.

Makkawi described the banking environment in the Gulf as “challenging” and said that investors were behaving cautiously at a time of low oil prices and a liquidity crunch.

“The investment climate is not going to be as hot or as bullish as when oil prices were at 100 dollars a barrel. People are looking for a bit more certainty and are staying away from speculative kinds of investments,” he said. (Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Mark Potter)