Doha Bank Plans Hong Kong Office as Qatar Lenders Expand

Doha Bank QSC, Qatar’s fourth-largest lender, plans to open an office in Hong Kong and is seeking to acquire licenses in India and Saudi Arabia as the Persian Gulf country’s lenders broaden their reach.

The bank, whose first-quarter profit beat estimates, seeks to open the office in a “couple months” to promote trade and investment banking, Chief Executive Officer Raghavan Seetharaman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. Doha Bank will reach its goal of doubling overseas profit by 2015 if it gets licenses on the subcontinent, he said.

The lender with assets of 57.2 billion riyals ($15.7 billion) is expanding as gas-rich Qatar spends billions of dollars acquiring companies and stakes abroad. Qatar National Bank, the country’s biggest lender and buyer of the Egyptian unit of Societe Generale SA, said last week it plans to start operations in India in the third quarter. Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC bought a stake in Turkey’s Alternatifbank AS.

Doha Bank aims to commit $1.5 billion focusing on small and medium enterprises as well as corporate clients in the United Arab Emirates where it is setting up corporate and project finance teams, Seetharaman said May 21.

The lender, which attracted 2.8 billion riyals in a rights offer in March, still plans to list shares in London, Seetharaman said.

The shares fell 0.1 percent to 47.5 riyals at the close in Doha. The stock has gained 2.5 percent this year compared with an 11 percent increase for the country’s benchmark index.