CAIRO – 5 August 2018: Qatari banks that have exposure to Turkey started to be impacted by the sharp decline in lira in terms of their earnings and asset quality.
The list of Qatari banks engaged with the Turkish economy includes Qatar National Bank (QNB), Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ), Qatar Islamic Bank, Doha Bank and Qatar First Bank. It coincides with the Qatari government's drive to pump more investments for political purposes in a troubled economy.
The QNB leads the list of most exposed Qatari banks after its acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank, which it bought for €2.7 billion in 2016 from National Bank of Greece. The current investment value of QNB's shares do not exceed €800 million with capital losses of up to €1.9 billion. Finansbank is the fifth-largest privately-owned bank by assets in Turkey.
The CBQ, second largest bank in Qatar, is also exposed to the Turkish economy by taking over the entire capital of the Turkish Alternatif Bank, formerly known as ABank, with an investment value of ₤1.17 billion, and with the recent crisis, the real investment value of the bank fell by 70%.
“The ongoing lira depreciation will lead to higher inflation, sluggish foreign direct investment, muted real GDP growth and higher unemployment, resulting in lower lending growth and weakening asset quality indicators for the Turkish banking system,” said Aarthi Chandrasekaran, vice-president of Shuaa Capital.
According to a research note from Shuaa, among these banks, QNB and CBQ, will have significant impact on earnings on the back of the lira’s depreciation.
Qatari lenders such as QNB and CBQ have lending exposure with 13 per cent and 15 per cent of loans respectively to Turkish subsidiaries.
Shares of Qatar National Bank, the Arabian Gulf state’s biggest lender, continued to slide until late August amid fears about the effect of the Turkish economic crisis on its unit in the country.
On 16 August, QNB slumped 2.56 per cent at mid-day trading, one day after the shares shed 4.7 per cent, the largest drop in a single session since the start of a diplomatic fallout on June 5, 2017, with four Arab countries over Qatar’s support for terrorist groups and meddling in the internal affairs of other states.
About 15 per cent of QNB's assets and 13 per cent of its loans are linked to Turkey, according to Arqaam Capital.
The Qatari regime pledged recently $15 billion worth of investment in Turkey in a bid to curb the impact of new U.S. sanctions.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made the announcement late August, saying the move was his way of standing by “brothers in Turkey,” Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera reported.
The emir’s comments followed direct talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Al Thani was also the first foreign head of state to visit Turkey since new tensions arose last week with Washington. Both the Turkish and Qatari finance ministers also attended the meeting.
The diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara came about as a result of the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Turkey arrested Brunson following a failed 2016 military coup against Erdogan, accusing the pastor of supporting the movement of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blamed for the coup. The pastor insists he is innocent; however, he could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted in a Turkish court.
Trump recently demanded the pastor’s release, which Turkey refused. In response, Washington moved to implement punitive sanctions against the country.
Turkey and Qatar have traditionally enjoyed good relations and ties became much closer after they both offered strong support for Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed politician who was elected president of Egypt in 2012 and was toppled by the military in 2013. They had also begun jointly sponsoring militant groups in Syria battling to topple President Bashar Assad after an armed insurgency began in 2011.
But in the years since, the countries have become more and more internationally marginalized: Turkey becoming almost a pariah state due to Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism and rights abuses, and Qatar being cut off by a boycott by neighbors including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt over claims that it supports terrorist groups.
As Qatari investment in Turkey soared to more than $20 billion in recent years, Turkey became one of the top exporters to the island emirate, with its construction companies winning lucrative contracts to build infrastructure there.
Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, Director General of Watani Al Emarat Foundation, created a thread on Twitter, slamming the Qatari regime’s recent move by pledging $15 billion worth of investment in Turkey.
He used hashtag (#Qatar_banks_are_drowning_in_Turkey), presenting 10 reasons why Qatar risked its financial capabilities in Turkey:
1- Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey because it trusted Erdogan’s teenaged policies.
2- Turkey’s economy is falling into an abyss due to Erdogan’s policies. Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey and soon they will go bankrupt if the Turkish lira continues its accelerated freefall.
3- Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey with heavy losses, and what’s coming is worse. The Qatar National Bank (QNB) lost $8 billion, the Qatar Islamic Bank lost $500 million, 70% of the Commercial Bank of Qatar’s investments is failing, and Doha Bank’s credit rating is declining.
4- Erdogan implicated Tamim in a major trouble that he didn’t expect. It is crazy to support a failing economy, but Tamim didn’t have a choice but obedience. The result is Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey.
5- Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey and losses are worth billions of dollars. It’s a massive ordeal for the government in Doha; neither could it rescue its ally, Erdogan, nor did it rescue itself from losses.
6- Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey is not just an economic loss, but also a loss of sovereignty and national interest.
7- Coinciding with Qatar’s banks crisis in Turkey, U.S. bank JP Morgan released a report warning about severe shrinkage of the Turkish economy and external debts of $179 billion.
8- Tamim supported Erdogan with $15 billion while Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey, naturally, as Ankara’s external debts are worth $179B and $146B internally.
9- Debts of billions, a falling lira, a declining economy, rising inflation. We don’t know the bright consultant who advised Tamim to support Erdogan.
10- Qatar’s banks are drowning in Turkey is a very short story of the biggest folly in history, starring Erdogan and Tamim.
Qatar’s relations with several Arab states have been strained since May 24, 2017 over a leaked statement attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, criticizing Gulf foreign policy with Iran, describing it as “unwise”.
On June 5, 2017, Qatar was hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis after multiple Arab nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region with its support for Islamist groups.
The Arab quartet halted all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, and withdrew their diplomats and ambassadors from the Qatari peninsula. The Arab quartet issued 13 demands to Doha – then shortened to six principles - including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base.
The four Arab countries severed relations with Doha over what they say was its close links to Iran, which has been accused of interfering in Arab countries’ affairs and being behind terrorist plots. Doha restored full diplomatic relations with Tehran amid the crisis.
One major disagreement between Qatar and its neighbors has been the former’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed as a terrorist group by the boycotting countries.
Since the eruption of the crisis, Qatar showed no intention of solving the strife. However, Qatar placed several people and entities on its terrorism list in March, including several Qatari nationals already blacklisted by the Arab quartet that accused Doha of supporting militants. Qatar’s issuance of a terror list of 19 individuals and eight entities has done little to impress decision-makers in the four Arab countries.
Oil-rich Qatar hosts a U.S. military base and has invested heavily in the U.S. economy, recently pledging billions more. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly told Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani at a dinner in late June: “You have been a great friend to the United States.”
Nevertheless, relations between Washington and Qatar have appeared more unstable than previously under the leadership of Trump. After Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Doha last year, accusing the country of funding terrorism and destabilizing the region, the president tweeted his support of the blockade.