Kuwait Finance House plans $8.8bn deal for Bahraini bank

Kuwaiti lender has offered to buy Bahrain's Ahli United Bank in an all-share deal

The combined entity will potentially become the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender with $100 billion in assets.

Kuwait Finance House offered to buy Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank in an all-share deal that’s valued at about $8.8 billion.

The Kuwaiti lender plans to issue 1 share for every 2.325581 shares of Ahli United, according to a statement. In January, the banks’ advisers had recommended the same swap ratio.

The combined entity will potentially become the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender with $100 billion in assets and the deal value was based on the lenders’ closing price on Thursday.

Kuwait Finance House shares have gained 27 percent this year to 707 fils, while AUB shares are up 51 percent to 94.1 US cents.

The swap ratio is fair and the merger “will create substantial cost synergies in Bahrain and Kuwait,” Jaap Meijer, the Dubai-based head of research at Arqaam Capital, said by email. He expects a 24.8 percent rise in KFH’s earnings and the combination to boost its return on equity by by 2.7 percentage points, driven by the cost synergies, AUB’s better asset quality, higher growth prospects and strong capital.

Lower oil prices over the past five years are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale and to better compete in a crowded market. Subdued credit growth, competition for deposits, higher cost of funds and deteriorating asset quality are driving consolidation in the regional banking sector.

In Saudi Arabia, National Commercial Bank is in the process of merging with Riyad Bank to create the Gulf’s third-largest lender with $193 billion in assets. Abu Dhabi completed the merger of three of its banks earlier this year to create the region’s fifth-biggest lender.

HSBC Holdings and Credit Suisse Group were advising KFH and AUB on the talks.

Source: Arabian Business

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