Qatar banks under Arab boycott seek Asian & European funding

Qatar banks under Arab boycott seek Asian & European funding
Hit by Doha’s ongoing standoff with neighboring Gulf countries, Qatari banks have turned to Asia and Europe for financing as clients from other Arab states started pulling billions of dollars from their accounts.

According to the Qatari central bank, the crisis has led to an outflow of around $7.5 billion in foreign customer deposits and a further $15 billion in foreign interbank deposits and borrowings.

Sources told Reuters that Qatar National Bank (QNB) had held talks, arranged by banks including Standard Chartered, with investors in Taiwan about a private placement of so-called Formosa bonds. It is debt issued in Taiwan but denominated in currencies other than the Taiwan dollar.

"We have several proposals for a Formosa issue from several international banks dealing in that part of the world," a spokesman for QNB told Reuters, adding that nothing had yet been agreed.

QNB is the Middle East's largest bank, and is considering private placements in other Asian markets, one of the sources said.

The lender has around $6 billion in bonds and medium term notes maturing between now and mid-2018, much of which it is likely to aim to refinance, the source added.

The country's largest Islamic lender, Qatar Islamic Bank has recently raised funds through private placement deals in Japanese yen and Australian dollars. The bank is exploring more deals in Europe and Asia, according to an international banker.

The banks are trying to find new private funding as analysts warn there are likely to be more substantial withdrawals in the coming months.

Experts estimate a further $3 to $4 billion could leave in the coming months.

The Qatari government deposited nearly $18 billion in local banks in June and July.

On Monday, Doha requested banks tap international investors to raise financing, instead of mainly relying on government funding as the impact of the boycott puts pressure on liquidity.

Earlier this month, international credit agency Moody’s warned Qatari banks’ funding levels were under threat. It also expressed worries about the banks' ability to access external financing.

Doha has been hit by blockades and financial sanctions from surrounding Gulf countries, in a row over Qatar's relations with Iran.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt suspended diplomatic relations with the country, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Doha has denied the accusation, calling the blockade by its neighbors illegal.