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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 15/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) HSBC Bank Middle East Limited said on Tuesday that it received the UAE Central Bank's approval for its acquisition of Lloyds TSB Middle East's onshore assets and liabilities, comprising its retail, commercial and corporate banking business in the UAE.

Under the reportedly 769 million acquisition deal, first announced in March 2012, HSBC now takes over Lloyds' retail, commercial and corporate banking businesses and one branch in Dubai.

The move to sell Lloyds TSB Middle East's onshore assets in the UAE came in the wake of decision taken by the parent Lloyds Banking Group to exit 15 of the markets in which it operates. The group is 41 per cent-owned by the British government as a result of a government bailout during the financial crisis.

HSBC said in a statement on Tuesday that it opened the doors of its new Jumeirah branch on Al Wasl Road to Lloyds and HSBC customers this week.

Lloyds TSB customers can continue to use the Jumeirah branch location as they do currently. The new branch will also cater to HSBC customers.

Abdulfattah Sharaf, chief executive officer of HSBC UAE, said the announcement marked an important milestone in HSBC's history in the UAE.

"HSBC first opened for business here in 1946 and has a record of long-term commitment and investment in the UAE. I thank the Central Bank for its support and encouragement of HSBC's continuous growth in the UAE," he said.

HSBC said the business acquired from Lloyds Banking Group has approximately 8,800 personal and commercial customers and a loan book of approximately 573 million as at December 31, 2011.

"We are really pleased with the positive impact the opening of the HSBC Jumeirah Branch will have on our customers, as we now are able to offer full branch banking, along with our 24/7 Express Banking Service in one of the UAE's most attractive locations," said Rick Crossman, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC UAE.

With the Lloyds TSB transaction, HSBC Middle East will now have nine branches in the UAE. In March this year, Lloyds Banking Group agreed to sell to HSBC its onshore UAE unit comprising its retail, commercial and corporate banking businesses, which operate through one branch in Dubai.

The deal does not include Lloyds Banking Group's international wealth business in the UAE as the London-based group has made a commitment to continue to invest in its wealth business in the region. This includes its private banking branch at the Dubai International Financial Centre and its offshore international personal banking service, which comprises its international accounts and other associated offshore services.

In August this year, Lloyds Banking Group sold 1.03 billion of private equity investments to Collar Capital, which specialises in buying second hand private equity portfolios. In the first half of this year, Lloyds Group sold off 23 billion in non-core assets, made up of a mixture of property and loan disposals.

In 2011, the bank off loaded 53 billion of non core assets, meaning almost 1 billion a week is being shifted by the bank as it looks to shore up its balance sheet in the face of tighter regulation.

- issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


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