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Abu Dhabi said to mull more bank mergers after NBAD-FGB deal

[LONDON] Abu Dhabi is considering more mergers to boost its financial services industry after combining National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC and First Gulf Bank PJSC, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The oil-rich emirate is weighing a plan to merge Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and Union National Bank PJSC and also combine Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC with Al-Hilal Bank PJSC, the people said, asking not to be identified as the plans are private. Abu Dhabi is considering further deals only after the NBAD-FGB merger is completed by March 2017, the people said. No final decision has been taken and the emirate may not pursue the mergers, they said.

Abu Dhabi decided to combine its two largest banks in July to create a regional powerhouse with US$175 billion of assets. The merger was seen as a precursor to more deals in the United Arab Emirates' financial services industry, where about 50 lenders compete in a market of about 9 million people. The emirate has also announced plans to combine two of its largest sovereign investment funds: International Petroleum Investment Co and Mubadala Development Company PJSC, as well as mergers in industries from oil to education.

Abu Dhabi Investment Council, a sovereign wealth fund in the emirate, owns a 58 per cent stake in ADCB and 50 per cent of UNB, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund also holds a 7.6 per cent stake in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and a holding in Al-Hilal.

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