Qatar First Bank L.L.C. (Public), a leading Shari’ah compliant bank based in Qatar and listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), has been recognized as the ‘Best Shari’ah Alternative Investment Platform’ for 2016 by ‘Wealth & Finance’ in this year’s ‘Alternative Investment Awards’.
The 2016 Alternative Investment Awards honors the dedicated individuals and businesses that are making a positive impact in a constantly-evolving marketplace and puts the spotlight on key players in the sector, following a comprehensive selection and judging process designed to single out the true market leaders of 2016.
Commenting on winning the prestigious award, Mr. Ziad Makkawi, Chief Executive Officer of QFB, said: “With investors being on a quest for more creative ways to maximize their returns, Qatar First Bank is constantly refining and developing its services to honor investors’ ever-changing needs and exceed clients’ expectations. Being recognized as the ‘Best Shari’ah Alternative Investment Platform’ for 2016 is a testament to the bank’s exceptional performance in the industry, and reflects our new strategy of offering our private equity expertise to investor clients.”
The celebrated award crowns QFB’s positive performance in in 2015 and 2016, during which the bank introduced an ambitious growth strategy, in addition to achieving significant milestones including the listing of shares on the Qatar Stock Exchange in April 2016.
Commenting on the award, Ihab Asali, Managing Partner – Alternative Investments at QFB, said: “QFB’s initial focus was driven by its legacy mandate to invest its capital by originating proprietary deals in private equity and real estate. Since the inception of its business operations in 2009, QFB built a strong track record by investing in several successful transactions across various geographies and sectors and realizing lucrative returns for its Shareholders. Over the years, the Bank has evolved from an in-house investment focused bank to a client focused bank.”
The Alternative Investments business segment at QFB primarily focuses on acquiring controlling or non-controlling interests, with board representation, in well managed companies and assets that have strong established market positions and growth potential.
QFB’s current portfolio of alternative investments include healthcare, energy, consumer finance, real estate, industrial, retail, luxury jeweler, food & beverage; spread across a diversified geography. The team consists of more than 10 experienced investment professionals, who work as partners with the management teams of the Investee Companies and Subsidiaries to unlock value through enhancing operational and financial performance in order to maximize returns for these companies, the Bank, and QFB clients.
Since its incorporation, the Bank has closed a number of successful transactions across Qatar, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Africa and the MENA region with carrying value of total equity investments (including subsidiaries) of QAR 1.73 billion as of 30 June 2016.
Commenting on the award, Samir Assaad, Managing Partner – Alternative Investments at QFB, said: “QFB’s strategy focuses on the bank’s role as a trusted advisor, a gateway for investors who wish to tap into innovative, Shari’ah compliant, investment opportunities in local, regional and global markets. During 2016, we will continue to diversify our portfolio and focus on business services, healthcare, education and real estate sectors while expanding into new geographical markets regionally and internationally. We are well positioned to provide capital solutions to growing businesses in the region that will benefit from our experience and the network of QFB. Furthermore, we look to partner with likeminded investors who share our philosophy of creating value by investing in market leaders where one can follow a disciplined approach and add operational value to portfolio companies. Additionally, we will continue to operate according to international best practice and attract third party money from both private and institutional investors.”
Over the years, QFB has successfully exited six investments, in addition to two partial exists, and generated healthy returns to Shareholders with an average IRR of 36%. The private equity investments continued to grow in value and recorded QAR 13 million in dividends from portfolio companies in the first half of 2016. English Home, QFB’s Turkey-based home textile chain, expanded its geographic footprint, increasing its number of stores in Turkey from 271 as of December 2015 to 293 as of June 2016, and internationally it expanded from 72 stores as of December 2015 to 89 as of June 2016. The Bank’s subsidiary, Al Wasita Emirates for Catering and Services, successfully increased its capital to AED 80 million, from existing shareholders, to further strengthen the company’s financial position and continue its expansion. QFB’s investment in Qatar’s Food Services Company continued to deliver good results with the company opening new stores across Qatar.
QFB also continued to support the London-based luxury jeweller David Morris in its expansion plans. A flagship store in Rue St Honore in Paris is scheduled to open later this year, along with a new dedicated boutique in Qatar’s Pearl in partnership with the Bank’s local partners. Memorial Health Group continued to progress the construction of its new hospital in Bahçelievler – Istanbul. The new hospital will be among the largest private hospitals in Istanbul comprising 70,000 sqm and 300 beds. During the first half of the year, QFB announced the completion of its development in Leinster Square, London W2; the Bank’s second real estate development in London after Westbourne House project completed during 2015. Leinster Square is an exclusive development of five stunning 3 and 4 bedroom townhouses and six 3-bedroom lateral apartments, of which only two remain.
Makkawi concluded: “Despite the challenging global economic conditions, regional market volatility and geopolitical tension, we will continue pushing ahead with our expansion strategy and adopt an opportunistic outlook to source viable investment opportunities that will generate sound returns for our clients and shareholders.”
Distributed each month to more than 130,000 high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, fund managers, institutional investors and professional services firms, Wealth & Finance INTL has rapidly become the go-to resource for those looking to make the right decisions when it comes to securing and growing their wealth. Wealth & Finance has already begun preparations for publishing the 2016 Alternative Investment Awards winners’ magazine, which will also feature on the ‘Wealth & Finance’ website for 12 months, as a platform for finding new clients and partners.
Reaping the benefits of the ambitious strategy, QFB went on a winning streak of awards and recognitions during 2016, with QFB being exclusively named 2016’s ‘Best Up-and-Coming Islamic Financial Institution’ in Global Finance magazine’s ninth annual awards for the World’s Best Islamic Financial Institutions. The Bank won the prestigious award after Global Finance had extensive consultations with bankers, corporate finance executives and analysts throughout the world. Additionally, The Asset, Asia’s leading financial publication for issuers and investors, honored QFB the awards of ‘Bank of the Year, Qatar’ and ‘Best Private Bank, Qatar’ at ‘The Asset Triple A Islamic Finance Awards 2016′.