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Ansbacher opens new opportunities in Qatar

Private banking FirstRand has finally offloaded subsidiary Ansbacher Group to the approval of all involved. The sale to Qatar National Bank (QNB) of the group, which provides financial services to high-net-worth clients internationally, was completed in November, opening a door to the lucrative and expanding high-net-worth market in Qatar.

According to Datamonitor, affluent individuals make up 8.4% of the adult Qatari population, a far higher proportion than any other Gulf Cooperation Council state. Indeed, the national bank estimates GDP growth for 2004 to be 16%, which, with a population of less than 700,000, makes Qatar one of the world's wealthiest countries.

Its growing wealth is encouraging the Qatar authorities to look at initiatives to help the state become a financial centre – particularly in the areas of wealth management and project finance. One project being considered, for example, is the development of Qatar as an international financial centre. So the acquisition of Ansbacher should put QNB in an excellent position. A senior executive at a private bank says: “It may seem an unusual match, but it's an extremely clever deal.”

For QNB, the acquisition gives it access to international markets. Ansbacher CEO Richard Spilg says: “QNB already has a 50% share of the domestic market – where do you go from there? There was some frustration as, while clients' domestic needs could be answered by the bank, when the client started to look internationally they were unable to help.

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