By Rebecca Spong, MEED
Growth driven by Islamic finance and rising prominence of Qatar
Qatari investment bank QInvest is forecasting strong growth in 2014 fuelled by demand for Islamic finance and international investors keen to access liquidity in the region.
“We do a lot of work acting as a gateway into the region, working for companies looking to access Qatar and tap pools of liquidity here,” Michael Katounas, head of investment banking at QInvest tells MEED on the sidelines of the Euromoney Qatar conference.
“We see a lot of demand in Islamic finance, as well. The whole Islamic finance space is moving to a new level.”
The bank is also targeting mid-market companies in non-GCC regions, a market that other financiers are not focusing on or have reduced their exposure to.
“There is quite a lot of demand from Europe in the midmarket space,” he says. “Providers of finance are taking a step back and many international banks are pulling out of the region. But you cannot replicate our on-the-ground access to local investors in London”.
The bank has been very active in Islamic finance during 2013, working on a $1.25bn sovereign sukuk for the government of Turkey as well as Qatari telecoms firm Ooredoo’s first $1.25bn sukuk (Islamic bond) issuance, which closed in early December.
Katounas expects a strong pipeline for Islamic finance deals in 2014, and not just focused on sukuk.
“There will be a lot of activity in Islamic finance market, definitely in the sukuk space but also outside the sukuk market. There is quite a lot of innovation, we are putting together hybrid structures,” he says.
QInvest recently launched a new strategy for the bank in October, cutting some lines of business and focusing on three core areas; investment banking, principal investments and asset management.
It is a strategy that has worked well so far, says Katounas. “We are happy with how 2013 went. We deployed $300m of our own capital and seen quite a lot of high-profile deals. We are scaling that up and aiming to deploy another $300m roughly in 2014.”