Interview: Brexit a chance for Qatari investors to expand UK assets – QFB CEO

The sudden correction in British real estate prices and the weakening of sterling following the decision of the Britons to leave the European Union (EU) will encourage investors from Qatar to add up to their assets portfolio in the UK for a longer term, a top banker has said.

The post- Brexit challenges might force a revaluation of Qatari assets in the UK in the short term but challenges will create opportunities for Qatari investors to expend their realty portfolio in the country, Qatar First Bank (QFB) CEO Ziad Makkawi told Qatar Tribune.

“The turmoil and uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote will create many opportunities.  We remain committed to deploying our won capital alongside our client to take advantages of the low realty prices,” he said.

One of the most high-profile investors in London, Qatar owns landmarks such as the Shard skyscraper, Harrods department store and Olympic Village as well as luxury hotels.

Qatar Also leads a consortium that bough the owner of the canary Wharf financials district last year.

According to a report, Qatar’s total investment in Britain is around $44 billion currently.

“The relationship between Qatar and the UK goes deeper than just its relationship with the EU and will continue to grow. It will be very interesting to see how the British pound behaves. Personally, I think, the UK economy on its own will be easier to understand and easier to manage than an entire economic bloc such as the EU.” Makkawi said.

Makkawi, however, said it is still very early to tell what the impact of Brexit will be on the UK and Europe let alone the impact on the Qatari economy.

Brexit will involve over two years of ‘divorce’ proceeding and things will not change overnight but there will be a lot of volatility, he said.

While the UK will be re-defining its relationship with Europe, he said, there will be issues to resolve internally in the UK.

Europe will be going through an intense transformation going forward, he said, adding and inward looking posture could further slowdown Eurozone’s already anaemic economic growth.

As a result, Brexit could have a negative impact on global growth and therefore on the demand for energy in general, he said.

Qatar First Bank and Novus Aviation Capital partner in an aircraft lease deal to acquire two Boeing 737s

– Aircraft to be leased to Indonesia’s Lion Air

Qatar First Bank L.L.C.(Public) (“QFB”), a leading Shari’ah-compliant bank based in Qatar and listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), and Novus Aviation Capital, one of the world’s long standing and fastest growing aircraft leasing platforms, have invested in the global aircraft leasing industry through the indirect acquisition and lease of two 2011 vintage Boeing 737-900ER single-aisle aircraft to Indonesia’s Lion Air.

The transaction will pay for the Investment in two B737-900ERs, the largest variant of Boeing’s hugely successful Next Generation (“NG”) series which is the current production family for the B737.

Commenting on the transaction, Ziad Makkawi, CEO of QFB, said: “We are delighted to have provided our clients, who have shown a strong interest, with this attractive investment. The transaction is in line with our strategy to diversify QFB’s revenue sources. We see opportunities in the aviation industry as it has historically generated relatively predictable returns over the medium to long term, something the market is in search off.”

“The outlook for the leased aircraft type, the B737-900ER, is very favorable which has positive implications for the preservation of its market value, and more importantly will provide strategic investors with recurring and sustained income streams.” Makkawi added.

Makkawi continued: “Our focus since the listing of the bank’s shares on the QSE was on generating steady income and offering shari’ah compliant structured products. This attractive investment fulfils these objectives as the aviation industry has maintained a stable and sustainable growth path in comparison with alternative investment benchmarks.”

The lease agreement will be managed by Dubai-based Novus Aviation Capital, a specialist in aircraft sourcing, trading, leasing and other related services. With a current portfolio of around US$ 3 billion, Novus Aviation Capital has closed over 400 lease and financing agreements valued at US$ 8 billion and has executed aircraft transactions with over 40 major airline companies.

Commenting on the transaction, Safwan Kuzbari, President and CEO of Novus Aviation Capital, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with Qatar First Bank on another landmark aircraft transaction and look forward to further developing our relationship on other attractive yielding aircraft assets,”

Novus Aviation Capital acted as sole arranger for both the financiering and leasing elements of the deal, with QFB exclusively involved in the Islamic financing part of the transaction.

Makkawi concluded: “Deploying capital, alongside our clients, and making investments in selected industries, such as the aviation sector, is an attractive direction in today’s challenging market and economic conditions. We are in the process of structuring several Shari’ah-compliant products to enable our shareholders and clients, private and corporate, to participate in these investments.”

Earlier in May, QFB announced the development of a pioneering open architecture private banking platform, which is set to offer Shari’ah-compliant products including financing, private banking services, innovative investment solutions, as well as family office services covering trusts, foundations, advisory, real estate planning, and statement consolidation. This is in line with QFB’s commitment to offer shareholders and clients the chance to grow, manage and protect their wealth and assets.

Complementing the launch of QFB’s private banking platform, the bank signed an agreement with real estate experts allowing shareholders and clients the ability to source competitive opportunities based on their specific requirements and budget. Adding another milestone, QFB recently announced the completion of 7-12 Leinster Square, a residential real estate development in Leinster Square – London W2.

Qatar First Bank confirms its strategy and introduces strict efficiency action plan

QFB confirms its strategy and announces action plan that focuses on optimizing the bank’s resources and raises its efficiency level

Qatar First Bank L.L.C. (QFB), a leading Shari’ah compliant bank based in Qatar and listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), confirms its strategy and announces action plan that focuses on optimizing the bank’s resources and raises its efficiency level. Along with the strict and tight cost cutting measures including strategic reduction to the workforce, the plan also pledged to focus on capitalizing on the bank’s human resources and maximizing their experience to boost performance during 2016, and achieve objectives over the coming years.

QFB’s efficiency action plan complements and confirms the strategy introduced in 2015 that streamlined the bank’s businesses to offer corporate & institutional banking, private banking & wealth management, treasury & investments, as well as private equity and real estate.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Ziad Makkawi, CEO of QFB, said:

“In line with the current market conditions and in order for QFB to emerge as a more efficient and productive contributor to Qatar’s financial market, we have undertaken important cost rationalization initiatives touching upon both staffing and business related expenses.”

Makkawi added: “The efficiency measures are part of the bank’s planned reorganization, previously introduced and backed by an advanced automated and technology based infrastructure, to enable accelerating the shift from being investment focused to investor focused.”

“QFB is at the beginning of a new era. The current direction to raise efficiency levels is part of our bigger plan, and actually complements our strategy, which benefits we have started reaping. We are committed to continue delivering on our promise to grow the business, expand our offerings, and provide a ‘Signature of Excellence’. We will continue investing in the coming years to achieve our objectives in a timely manner.” Makkawi added

Makkawi concluded: “Looking ahead, we are aware that there is still a great deal of work to be done on the Bank’s journey to success. As the global investment market continues to go through major challenges, we will continue to explore attractive opportunities that increase revenues generated from all businesses and contribute positively to shareholders’ value.”

By committing to its current strategy and investing in the bank’s future, QFB is effectively maximizing the benefit of its QSE listing.Through focusing on business lines that are expected to generate income, positively exiting from some of its private equity investments, and efficiently utilizing its human capital; QFB aims to raise shareholders’ value and enhance profitability levels.

Earlier in May, the bank announced the development of a pioneering open architecture private banking platform, which is set to offer Shari’ah compliant products including financing, private banking services, innovative investment solutions, as well as family office services covering trusts, foundations, advisory, real estate planning, and statement consolidation. This is in line with QFB’s commitment to offer shareholders and clients the chance to grow, manage and protect their wealth and assets.

Complementing the launch of QFB’s private banking platform, the bank signed agreement with real estate experts allowing shareholders and clients the ability to source competitive opportunities based on their specific requirements and budget. Adding another milestone, QFB recently announced the completion of 7-12 Leinster Square, a residential real estate development in Leinster Square – London W2.