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Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), the Middle East’s biggest lender by assets, may seek to buy a stake in one of the top 10 lenders in Turkey as it boosts expansion overseas, Chief Financial Officer Ramzi Mari said.

“We’re not interested in a minority stake in Turkey,” Mari said today on a conference call after QNB announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Societe Generale’s Egyptian NSGB unit. “Considering the competitiveness of the Turkish market, we would have to go for one of the top 10 banks.”

Foreign banks are seeking to boost their presence in Turkey with acquisitions and license applications. OAO Sberbank (SBER), Russia’s biggest lender, bought Turkey’s Denizbank AS (DENIZ) from Belgium’s Dexia SA (DEXB) for 6.47 billion liras ($3.63 billion) in June. Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) paid $5.8 billion for a 24.9 percent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN), Turkey’s largest bank by market value, last year.

Fitch Ratings cited a “sound banking system” when it raised Turkey’s credit rating to investment grade BBB- on Nov. 5. Moody’s Investors Service boosted the foreign-currency ratings of Turkey’s five biggest lenders by two levels to Baa2 in July, saying the banking industry was well-capitalized.

To contact the reporters on this story: Arif Sharif in Dubai at; Sibel Akbay in Istanbul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at

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