Qatar's Al Khalij Is Said to Weigh Sale of French, U.A.E. Units

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar’s Al Khalij Commercial Bank PQSC has hired Barclays Plc to advise on the sale of its businesses in France and the United Arab Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Doha-based lender, which plans to retain only it’s Qatar business, is drawing interest from global banks and financial institutions from the region for the assets, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The sale talks come amid a diplomatic standoff between Qatar and it’s neighbors including Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., which has made it difficult for companies in the gas-rich state to operate in the rest of Gulf. The blockade has hurt the revenue of many Qatari companies, forcing them to shrink their workforce and sell non-core assets.

Spokesmen at Al Khalij and Barclays didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Al Khalij Chief Executive Officer Fahad Al Khalifa didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Al Khaliji France SA cut about 10 percent of jobs at its U.A.E. business, people familiar with the matter said in October.

Qatar First Bank sold its stake in Dubai-based Amanat Holdings PJSC last November, while Qatar General Insurance & Reinsurance Co. said in December it planned to exit the insurance market in Dubai. Elan Group is also considering the sale of its Novo Cinemas operations in the U.A.E. and Bahrain, people with knowledge of the matter said this week.

Net income at Al Khalij increased 5.3 percent in the first quarter to 169.5 million riyals ($46.3 million) from a year earlier, the lender said on April 19. The bank had 58 billion riyals in assets at the end of December, according to its website.

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