Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar’s largest Islamic lender by market value, is seeking shareholder approval to buy a strategic stake in a Libyan commercial bank through a capital increase, it said on Monday, without naming the target entity.
The sharia-compliant bank will ask shareholders to approve the stake purchase, due diligence of which is currently in progress, at a meeting on February 18, it said in a bourse filing. No further details on the planned acquisition were provided.
The bank may issue an Islamic bond, or sukuk, in the future as it seeks to expand regionally, a brokerage note from QNB Financial Services said.
Masraf is also in talks to acquire a 70-percent stake in Islamic Bank of Britain from Qatar International Islamic Bank .
Qatari banks, flush with cash from the country’s rich gas reserves, have been eyeing regional expansion given increased competition in the local market. Qatar National Bank, which is leading the expansion drive, agreed to buy the Egyptian arm of Societe Generale in December.
Meanwhile, Commercial Bank of Qatar is in talks to buy a majority stake in Turkey’s Alternatifbank by the end of March, it said earlier in January.
Masraf, the second-largest bank in Qatar by market value, also said it earned a net profit of 1.52 billion riyals ($417.5 million) for 2012, an increase of 7.9 percent over 2011. Its board recommended a cash dividend of 1 riyal per share.
The bank did not provide fourth-quarter figures but the QNB Financial Services note said that net income for the quarter amounted to 437 million riyals based on their calculations.
That represents an increase of 10.4 percent from the 395.9 million riyals posted in the same period of 2011.