Qatari lenders Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) have started initial talks for a merger of the three banks.

The proposed merger would create the largest Islamic bank in the Qatar and the third largest Islamic bank in the Middle East, with over QAR160bn ($43.9bn) in assets and a share capital of over QAR22bn ($6bn).

The combined entity would include the key strengths of the three lenders in retail and private banking, services to corporate and government institutions, Sukuk capital markets as well as wealth and asset management.

The merger is subject to shareholders’ nod and approval from various regulatory bodies including the Qatar Central Bank, the Qatar Financial Markets Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.

“The merger is also expected to contribute positively to the economic development in the State of Qatar by supporting business and small and medium sized entities, and would also create a strategic partner for the Government and the public sector. The merger is also expected to create value to all stakeholders, including the shareholders, the banks customers and to the national economy,” the banks said in a joint statement.