Qatar lender CBQ foreign ownership limit upped to 25 pct

Qatar lender CBQ foreign ownership limit upped to 25 pct

DOHA - Foreign investors can own from Sunday 25 percent of Commercial Bank of Qatar's shares, a statement from the stock exchange said, as the lender becomes the latest firm to loosen ownership restrictions prior to the country's MSCI upgrade.

Listed companies in both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been increasing foreign ownership caps with the aim of attracting more international capital when MSCI raises them to emerging market from frontier market status at the end of May.

The upgrade is expected to put the Gulf Arab states on the radar screens of international fund managers and bring billions of dollars of fresh money to the markets, with data showing the inflows of funds have already begun.

CBQ's foreign ownership limit would be 25 percent effective Sunday, a statement from the Qatari bourse said. It did not state what the previous cap was but official data showed foreign investors owned 15.21 percent of the bank at the end of Sunday.

Among the international funds currently invested in CBQ - the second-largest bank in Qatar by assets - are Templeton Asset Management, Pictet Asset Management and Norges Bank Investment Management, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Qatar Islamic Bank is also increasing its foreign ownership limit to 25 percent, the stock exchange said in June. The move was expected in six to nine months from the announcement, it said at the time.

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