Gulf Finance House aims to sell QInvest stake



Gulf Finance House is seeking buyers for its stake in QInvest, a Doha-based investment bank.

The Bahraini investment bank, which reached a restructuring agreement on US$110 million (Dh404m) of debt last month, indirectly holds a 4 per cent stake in QInvest through one of its associates, Khaleeji Commercial Bank, a Bahraini lender that is 47 per cent owned by Gulf Finance House.

"We don't really have a significant role to play in QInvest. If you find a suitable buyer at some point in time, we'll accept. It's a legacy asset," said a source close to Gulf Finance House.

"As far as we're concerned, as a small shareholder with not much influence in how the bank is managed … there's really not much of a role for a Bahraini bank to play in QInvest."

Gulf Finance House is seeking to turn around its fortunes by building up stakes in "core" assets in Bahrain and selling some of its other holdings, Hisham Alrayes, the bank's acting chief executive, told The National last month.

Gulf Finance House declined to comment on QInvest.

A sale of the QInvest stake would have minimal impact on the Bahraini bank, which would receive little of the proceeds, said Ahmad Alanani, the senior executive officer at Exotix, a specialist investor in illiquid debt. QInvest is controlled by the sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority.

The bank is trying to form a joint venture with EFG Hermes in Egypt. "It'll get them an exciting market to be operating in and an exciting market in future," the source said.

However, the focus of the merged company was less likely to be Gulf Finance House's home market of Bahrain.

"It'll be more focusing on Mena [the Middle East and North Africa], and more so on Mena ex-GCC," the source said. The resulting company would be more likely to focus on "the rest of the Arab world - Egypt, the Levant and North Africa. That's where their franchise lies", the source said.

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