QNB's leap lifts Qatar in early trade, most of region strong

Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership

Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership

MidEast shares were mixed, with Qatar surging after Qatar National Bank said it would raise its ceiling for foreign ownership.

QNB, in which the government is by far the biggest shareholder, said it would recommend to shareholders increasing its non-Qatari ownership ceiling to 49 percent of capital from 25 percent.

Qatar National Bank shares surged the most in eight years as the biggest lender in the Middle East and North Africa seeks to nearly double its foreign ownership limit.

Qatar National Bank has been looking to tap new sources of funding amid a blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. QNB has absorbed the impact of the standoff and is pushing ahead with an expansion into Southeast Asia, Chief Executive Officer Ali Al-Kuwari told Bloomberg in January.

Meanwhile, Saudi shares rose on corporate results and foreign buying on expectations equity index compilers in the next few months will upgrade Riyadh to emerging market status.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group said annual profit increased more than ten-fold.

The move by QNB comes in the backdrop of Doha witnessing the advent of exchange traded fund, which tracks the 20-stock Qatar Index.

QNB, Qatar's largest lender, is all set to allow higher up to 49% foreign ownership limit (FOL) in its capital, a move that gives more visibility for the bank in the global arena.

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