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Malaysia's AMMB, RHB Bank to end merger talks

[KUALA LUMPUR] RHB Bank Bhd, Malaysia's fourth-largest lender by assets, and AMMB Holdings Bhd are planning to scrap their proposed merger, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

RHB and AMMB had difficulty reaching agreement on terms, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The companies could announce as soon as Tuesday that they've decided to end talks about a combination, according to the person. RHB has a market capitalization of about US$4.6 billion, while AMMB is valued at US$3.3 billion in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian lenders said in June they had won central bank approval to start exclusive negotiations on what was expected to be an all-share deal. The exclusivity was due to expire on Aug 30. Shares of both lenders were suspended from trading in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, pending material announcements.

A representative for AMMB declined to comment, saying the lender would issue a statement to the stock exchange shortly. A spokeswoman for RHB said she couldn't immediately comment.

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The lenders' decision not to proceed with a merger comes more than two years after a plan to combine RHB with CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and Malaysia Building Society Bhd fell apart. The central bank has been encouraging consolidation among local lenders to help create larger entities that can better compete on a regional level.