Bahrain lender sells Ahli Bank stake to Qatar Foundation
January 10, 2013 - 1:50:08 pm
DUBAI: Ahli United Bank, Bahrain's largest listed lender, has sold most of its 33 percent stake in Qatar's Ahli Bank to sovereign fund Qatar Foundation.
The sale, involving all but 1,000 of Ahli United's 37.38 million shares, still requires the approval of Ahli Bank shareholders, an Ahli Bank filing to the Qatar bourse said on Thursday.
No price was given but the stake would have been worth 1.93 billion riyals ($530.2 million) at Wednesday's 51.70 riyals closing price.
Ahli Bank, Qatar's seventh-largest lender by market value, had said in November its strategic partner would offload its holding and that the proposed sale was being reviewed by the Qatar central bank.
Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organisation which focuses on developing the Gulf Arab state's education and science sectors, will now become Ahli Bank's largest shareholder, followed by the Qatar Investment Authority which has a 16.7 percent stake.
The purchase by a Qatari sovereign fund not known for investments in the financial sector could indicate a lack of interest among other commercial banks, a Dubai-based banker said.
"It was always a question of how much control you could exercise with a 30 percent stake. Qatar is already a very over-banked nation and if you don't have majority ownership, there is little you could do there," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. (Reuters)