Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership

Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership

Qatar's stock market continued rising on Tuesday after two top companies said they were raising their ceilings for foreign ownership, while strength in Egypt's biggest bank lifted that market. Qatar National Bank's stock rose by 10%, the biggest growth of more than 12 years, while shares of the largest bank in Dubai Emirates NBD reported a 4.5% rise in prices.

The bank intends to recommend to the extraordinary general assembly to approve increasing the percentage of non-Qatari ownership in the company's capital to 49% from 25% in accordance with the applicable provisions of Law No. 9 of 2014 regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in the economic activity and subject to approval of the regulators concerned. On Tuesday, the company said it had increased its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent. Industrials stock Qatar Electricity and Water 8.71 percent.

Petrochemicals were particularly strong as National Petrochemical, which had jumped 10 percent on Sunday after reporting annual net profit more than doubled, rose by the same margin again.

Industries Qatar gained 5.9 percent on Tuesday morning after leaping 10 percent on Monday.

Historically Qatar had only two categories - Qatari and non-Qatari investors, but with an Emiri decree stipulating increased FOL, the country moved towards a three-tier system where investors have been classified as Qatari, Gulf Cooperation Council and foreign investors.

"Said QNB has been "very resilient" in the past few years, helping it overcome the "current political situation"; said investors had begun to doubt Qatar's place in the EM space, especially with Saudi and Kuwait poised for inclusion in emerging market indexes this year", which will reduce the weight of Qatar and the U.A.E.

Dubai's index was nearly flat as Emirates NBD closed unchanged.

NOTE: FTSE Russell included Kuwait to its emerging markets category past year, and is expected to announce a decision on a potential inclusion of Saudi Arabia on March 28.

El Sewedy Electric, which had gained 5.9 percent on Monday after saying it had signed a contract with Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co to provide power transmission lines worth 2.12 billion Egyptian pounds ($121 million), last traded 10 percent higher. The upbeat market announcement helped push the benchmark index up to gain 410.38 points to 8,663.04, the biggest leap in 15 months. Barwa advanced by 6.09 percent.

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