Qatar Financial Centre opens for business
The Qatar Financial Centre opened for business on May 1 2005, and is now accepting licence applications from institutions. Its first resident – private bank Ansbacher – is set to open in early September 2005. Stuart Pearce, QFC's chief executive, says that an asset-management company and two banks are in the final stages of applying for licences. Dismissing concerns that the creation of yet another regional financial hub might be seen as overkill, the QFC says it is not seeking to compete directly with Bahrain and Dubai. "There is no reason why all three centres can't operate together," says Pearce. "They are different, complementary markets." The QFC has its sights set on banks involved in project financing and private banking, as well as commercial banking, private equity and investment banking, IPOs, and structured finance. "The feeling is that more wealth is staying in the Middle East, and that wealth needs a home, so there are all kinds of opportunities for regional and international banks to participate in the development of that wealth," says Pearce.
The QFC provides a low-tax environment, charging 10% on profits following a three-year tax holiday (as opposed to the standard Qatari corporate tax rate of 35%).