AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, banking briefs
Oct 03, 2012 (Menafn - AME Info - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --EMIRATES NBD BIDS FOR BNP'S EGYPT RETAIL ARM: Emirates NBD and Morocco's AttijariWafabank have bid to buy BNP Paribas' Egyptian retail arm, as regional banks pick up assets being offloaded by European lenders, Reuters has reported, citing four banking sources. "The two parties are clearly the frontrunners for the stake. There is a lot of regional interest for Egyptian assets but some may be backing out, expecting other European assets to be put on the block," the banking source said. BNP, the top French bank, put its retail banking business in Egypt on the block in June, seeking to shore up its capital base and exit non-core operations.
ITHMAAR SET TO CLOSE MERGER DEAL WITH FIRST LEASING BANK: Bahrain-based Ithmaar Bank has said that negotiations on a proposed merger with one of its associates, First Leasing Bank, had reached an advanced stage, Gulf Daily News has reported. The boards of both lenders approved the merger plans and the kingdom's banking and financial services regulator the central bank had also given its initial approval, Ithamar chief executive Mohammed Bucheerei said. First Leasing Bank is an associate of Ithmaar Bank which holds 21.32 percent, the largest single block of shares, in the bank.
HSBC PLANS TO EXPAND RETAIL OPERATIONS IN EGYPT: Europe's largest bank, HSBC is seeking to boost its consumer lending and wealth management businesses in Egypt, as the country recovers from political unrest and its European rivals sell units there, Bloomberg has reported. The bank is expanding its network of 100 branches in the most-populous Arab country and will be the first to introduce mobile banking services there, said Francesca McDonagh, the Dubai-based head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC in the Middle East and North Africa. "Egypt for me, in terms of organic growth, is a fantastic market both in terms of the retail side and also over time, in wealth management," McDonagh said. "You have got a very large population, you have got a young population, a number of people coming into the work force, very high savings rates and you have low borrowing relative to other markets in this region."
SAUDI LENDERS TO POST HIGHER Q3 INCOME ON PROPERTY, PETCHEM PROJECTS:REPORT: Riyad Capital, the investment arm of Saudi lender Riyad Bank, has said banks in the kingdom are set to report higher third-quarter profit, after they extended loans to real estate and petrochemical projects, and helped arrange record Islamic bond sales, Bloomberg has reported. Net income at the 10 biggest banks in the world's top oil supplier probably advanced 12 percent in the three months, Riyad Capital said in a report on September 29. Loans to private businesses grew the most in more than three years in August, while issuers including Saudi British Bank and food producer Almarai sold a record 8bn of debt this year. Arqaam Capital said Saudi banks are expected to post 8.7 percent profit growth in the quarter, exceeding 5.4 percent for lenders in Qatar, 1.3 percent in the UAE and a decline of 3.5 percent in Kuwait.
S&P UPGRADES WARBA INSURANCE RATINGS: Standard & Poor's has upgraded Kuwait-based Warba Insurance Co's financial strength rating and counterparty credit ratings to 'BBB' with 'stable' outlook, Kuwait Times has reported. The stable outlook indicates Warba's financial profile could further improve over the next two years, S&P said. Warba competes with more than 30 licensed insurance providers in the Gulf country and currently has a market share of 11 percent.
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