Qatar's QNB bank to expand presence in Sudan: paper

02/11/2009 00:00 AST

The Islamic arm of Qatar National Bank (QNB) will add a further 10 branches to its network of five branches in Sudan, a Sudanese official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Ahmed Shawar, secretary-general of Sudans investment authority, made the comments at a news conference in Khartoum, Qatars al-Sharq daily reported.

QNB, in which Qatars sovereign wealth fund owns a 50 percent stake, said in November it was targetting surging demand for Islamic banking in the country.

Fuelled by an almost four-fold rise in oil prices since 2002, lenders in the Gulf Arab region have being expanding overseas as they face increasing saturation in their home markets.

QNB operates in 22 countries besides Qatar, spanning Iran to Singapore, either through branches or stakes in banks.

It has a 50 percent stake in the Tunisian-Qatari bank and bought a 23.8 percent stake in the United Arab Emirates-based Commercial Bank International. It has a 33.2 percent stake in Jordans Housing Bank for Trade and Finance.

Shares of Qatars largest lender were up about 3 percent at 0749 GMT outperforming the main index.

Bank officials were not immediately available for comment.

Shawar said another Qatari bank, which he did not name, has obtained approval to begin operations in Sudan.

Qatar companies have been ramping up investment in Africas largest country in recent weeks seeking opportunities across all sectors.

Hassad Food, owned by Qatars sovereign wealth fund, said last week it had signed a deal worth potentially $1 billion to develop land in Sudan .

The property arm of the Qatar Investment Authority said on Sunday it was also progressing with the construction of a new real estate project in the African country estimated at about $400 million.

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