DUBAI Dec 20 Banking shares in Qatar made
strong gains on Tuesday morning after three Qatari banks said
they were in talks on a potential $44 billion merger, but other
markets in the Gulf retreated on profit-taking.
Masraf Al Rayan jumped 4.4 percent after the
Islamic lender announced it was in initial talks with Barwa Bank
IPO-BABK.QA and privately listed International Bank of Qatar
to merge, in a deal that would create the second largest bank in
The possible consolidation spurred interest in other
lenders, with the largest bank by assets, Qatar National Bank
, adding 1.8 percent. The main Qatar equities index
was up 0.4 percent.
But selling of blue chips weighed on the Saudi Arabian index
, which was down 0.6 percent after half an hour.
Petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries shed a
further 1.1 percent after dropping 3.7 percent on Monday in
response to its plan to cut its second-half cash dividend from a
year earlier. Saudi British Bank was down 1.8 percent.
Builder Abdullah Al Khodari, which had surged 9.3
percent on Monday, pulled back 2.2 percent.
In Dubai, the index was down 0.3 percent with
decliners outnumbering gainers 15 to six. Heavyweight Emaar
Properties retreated 1.0 percent.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)