National Bank of Kuwait Says Sells Qatar Bank Stake For $538m

The bank will book a profit of KD25 million from the sale in its 2014 accounts, it said in a bourse filing.

National Bank of Kuwait has sold its 30 per cent stake in unlisted International Bank of Qatar for KD155 million ($537.5 million), the Kuwaiti lender said on Thursday.

The largest bank in Kuwait will book a profit of KD25 million ($86.7 million) from the sale in its 2014 accounts, it said in a bourse filing, after the sale to an unspecified group of Qatari investors.

The profit from the sale, which is subject to regulatory approvals in Qatar, represents 61 per cent of NBK’s fourth-quarter 2013 net profit of $142 million, meaning the sale should significantly boost its earnings this year.

Calls to an IBQ spokesman seeking clarification on the identity of the buyers went unanswered.

IBQ’s remaining 70 per cent is privately-held by five Qatari companies, according to its annual report which did not disclose their identities.

It is the second time in two years that a minority shareholder in a Qatari bank has sold out to local investors.

Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank sold a 29.4 per cent stake in Ahli Bank in January 2013 to Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organisation wholly-owned by the Gulf state’s royal family.

At the time, Ahli United said it had decided to sell due to a legal inability to maintain its shareholding above the minimum level required for the Qatari entity to qualify as a strategic core investment.

NBK did not disclose a reason for selling its IBQ stake in it bourse statement on Thursday.

IBQ had assets of QAR28.68 billion ($7.88 billion) at the end of 2013 and generated a net profit of QAR553.3 million, the report said. That would make it the eighth-largest lender in Qatar by assets, according to Reuters calculations.

IBQ tried to merge with Al Khaliji Commercial Bank but ended the talks in June 2011 after a year of negotiations because the lenders failed to agree on terms.

The chairman of IBQ is Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, the former head of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and who, as a private investor, paid 1.75 billion euros for a stake in Deutsche Bank earlier this year.