QFC busy as bankers apply for licences

THE RECENTLY opened Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been bombarded with licence enquiries from the banking sector’s key players since it started business last week.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  May 8, 2005

THE RECENTLY opened Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been bombarded with licence enquiries from the banking sector’s key players since it started business last week. Legislation establishing QFC was passed in March, but took effect last Sunday. QFC has been approached by commercial banks, investment houses, financial service providers and multinational companies, according to the centre’s chairman and CEO, Phillip Thorpe. “We have had a stream of enquiries from big international and regional banking players,” Thorpe told Arabian Business. “All of the household names have shown an interest, but our game is not to make projections here. I can’t disclose who has shown an interest yet because of confidentiality rules,” he added. The centre, which opened for business last week, was inaugurated by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al Thani, prime minister of Qatar. And having the Qatari government’s backing is a big boost for the venture. “Having the prime minister here for the opening was a very positive sign indeed and it’s fantastic to have the commitment of the Qatari government,” explained Thorpe. “Qatar’s government has a history of involvement in major projects and many of these involve international banks. The government’s view is that they want to see these kind of partnerships continue,” he added. The Qatari government has made it clear it wants to see its partners on the ground in Doha, rather than see them fly in and out of the country. Furthermore, Thorpe believes there it is a huge advantage in having top banking expertise resident in Qatar. “There is no substitute for proximity and to have them on the ground here. If you can get them to see where their interests lie, that’s the key,” he said. The centre will be operated by a three-tier authority comprising the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) and an arbitration body. Qatar’s current economic growth is expected to provide the right environment for QFC to deal with project finance, bond issuance, insurance, reinsurance, asset management, private banking and general business support services. The centre will provide special legal and regulatory conditions for companies establishing themselves in Qatar, and will be similar to regional financial and business centres already set up in Bahrain and Dubai.

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