Post World Cup, Qatar shifts focus to finance and its Stock Exchange

qatar stock market display

Qatar’s focus is on finance reporting a 9% rise in annual net profit for Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA), the Gulf’s biggest bank by assets, as the Gulf country prepares for its first Initial Public Offering (IPO) in just under three years, having introduced new regulations to better compete with exchanges in the region. 

QNB’s total assets were up 9% year on year to 1.189 trillion riyals. Loans and advances rose 6% to 808 billion riyals, while customer deposits were 7% higher at 842 billion riyals. The results beat analyst estimates, which expected the bank to report net profit of approximately 13.7 billion riyals for last year.

According to Reuters, “IT services firm MEEZA could raise up to 911 million riyals ($249 million) when it launches its IPO on Jan. 15 through the sale of 50% of its shares under a new bookbuilding process in Doha which allows companies to offer a price range to test investor appetite and determine pricing.”

As the world’s largest LNG exporter, Qatar is looking to diversify away from gas and follow the transformation of neighbouring countries which includes building its equities market by opening it up to a wider investor base and introducing more listings. The absence of listings has created pent-up demand, expected to take place over the next 18 months.

Foreign investors are still banned from taking part in public-share sales although they are allowed to buy and sell shares in listed Qatari firms, yet this too may change as new regulations are tested. A “healthy pipeline of public offerings” of attractive government and family-owned businesses are expected in the medium term, Reuters reported.

With a market capitalisation of approximately $158.2 billion, Qatar is classified as an emerging market. Doha missed out on the IPO boom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year as it focused on the World Cup.

Qatar reportedly spent some $229 billion on infrastructure in the 11 years since winning the bid to host the World Cup.

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