First Abu Dhabi Bank mulls Saudi Ara­bia ven­ture

New Straits Times - - Business -

ABU DHABI: First Abu Dhabi Bank is “se­ri­ously study­ing” ex­pand­ing into Saudi Ara­bia, ei­ther through ac­qui­si­tions or a new li­cence, its chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer told Al Khaleej news­pa­per.

All op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal and for­eign ac­qui­si­tions were open to the bank, said Ab­dul­hamid Saeed.

First Abu Dhabi Bank was cre­ated with the merger of Na­tional Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC and First Gulf Bank PJSC, the United Arab Emi­rates’ two largest lenders by mar­ket value.

In­ter­na­tional and re­gional banks are seek­ing to ex­pand in Saudi Ara­bia as the king­dom pre­pares to sell hun­dreds of state as­sets to help re­struc­ture its econ­omy hurt by oil’s de­cline.

Cit­i­group Inc last week re­ceived an in­vest­ment bank­ing li­cence from the coun­try’s reg­u­la­tor af­ter 13 years, while Emi­rates NBD PJSC, Dubai’s big­gest bank, in Jan­uary got ap­proval to in­crease the num­ber of branches to four from one.

As well as wel­com­ing for­eign lenders, Saudi Ara­bia’s bank­ing sec­tor is also fac­ing con­sol­i­da­tion.

HSBC Hold­ings Plc and Royal Bank of Scot­land Group Plc’s Saudi Ara­bia ven­tures last week said they were ex­plor­ing a po­ten­tial merger to cre­ate the king­dom’s third-largest lender with US$78 bil­lion (RM339.3 bil­lion) in as­sets. Bloomberg

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