Qatar’s QNB Says It Held Talks to Buy Turkey’s Finansbank

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Qatar National Bank SAQ, Qatar’s largest bank by assets, is interested in acquiring Turkey’s Finansbank AS as the lender seeks to expand outside its home market.

The two have held preliminary talks on a deal, though no material developments have taken place, the Doha-based lender said in a statement Monday, without giving further detail. Finansbank soared as much as 13.5 percent on the news to 6.7 liras, and traded at 6.60 liras as of 3:55 p.m. in Istanbul.

QNB, as it’s known, is seeking expansion beyond the Gulf to widen margins and tap larger markets. It agreed to pay $1.97 billion for a majority stake in Societe Generale SA’s Egyptian unit in 2012, while Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC bought a 70.8 percent stake in Turkey’s Alternatifbank AS in 2013. HSBC Holdings Plc is also selling its Turkish unit, it said in June.

“International diversification remains an integral part of QNB strategy given the limitations of the domestic Qatari market,” said Apostolos Bantis, a credit analyst at Commerzbank AG in Dubai. “Qatar’s banking market is highly penetrated, constraining growth opportunities.”

Boosting Presence

National Bank of Greece SA, which owns Finansbank, said today that it will hold talks with potential investors as it evaluates strategic alternatives for the lender. QNB and Fiba Holding are among those interested in acquiring it, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is advising QNB on the potential deal, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified as the news isn’t public. A QNB spokesman in Doha declined to comment, as did a JPMorgan representative.

Foreign banks are seeking to boost their presence in Turkey with acquisitions and license applications, even as some seek to exit the country. OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, bought Turkey’s Denizbank AS from Belgium’s Dexia SA for 6.47 billion liras ($3.63 billion) in 2012, beating out interest from QNB. Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA paid $5.8 billion for a 24.9 percent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, Turkey’s largest bank by market value, last year.

NBG, Greece’s largest lender, was required to cut its stake in Finansbank to less than 60 percent from 99.8 percent by the end of the year under the terms of a European bailout agreement.

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