Pakistan approves US$1.02 billion HBL state-owned shares divestment
Pakistan on Saturday approved divesting all of its state-owned shares in top private bank HBL for US$1.02 billion, in what officials said is the country’s largestever equity offering.
The government received US$1.6 billion of offers for its 41.5 percent in HBL during three days of book-building at London, New York, Singapore and Dubai, the privatization commission said.
“The (cabinet) committee has approved the selling of whole lot of its shares at 168 rupees a share,” Minister for Privatization Mohammad Zubair told AFP after the meeting.
“It was the largest-ever equity offering out of Pakistan and larg- est-ever equity offering in Asian frontier markets, which fetched demand of US$1.6 billion.”
The Privatization Commission of Pakistan said in a statement US$1.02 billion of bids were accepted of the total US$1.6 billion of offers.
HBL, formerly known as Habib Bank Limited, was part-privatized in 2004, with the Agha Khan Foundation buying the bulk of the shares.
The current offering is Pakistan’s largest privatization deal since 2006, when the then government raised US$712 million from selling its stake in Oil and Gas Development (OGDCL).
The government had planned to offer 250 million base shares in HBL, with an option of selling 390 million more depending on the response.
A quarter was allocated for local investors with the rest to be sold internationally.
Analyst Mohammad Sohail, chief of Topline Securities, lauded the approval of the deal, saying it would bring much-needed foreign currency in the country.
“Of all the shares, 75 percent have been offered to foreign investors and it would bring US$746 million to add to the foreign exchange reserves,” he told AFP.
HBL, which opened in 1947, has 1,425 branches in Pakistan and an international network spread over 26 countries.