Bahraini bank says interested in Cairo bank
CAIRO: Bahrain Islamic Bank has asked the Central Bank of Egypt for permission to conduct a due diligence study of Cairo-based Arab Investment Bank with a view to acquiring it, state news agency MENA said on Thursday. Arab Investment Bank is a small, mainly public-sector bank with 13 branches, two of them dedicated to Islamic banking. Its Web site (http://arab-investment-bank.egypt.com) says it has paid-in capital of $40 million. MENA quoted Najib al-Humaidi, chairman of Kuwait s Efad Holdings, as saying he expected the central bank to approve the request because it wanted to sell Arab Investment Bank to another banking institution. Efad is the major shareholder in the Bahraini bank, it added. Humaidi said Efad wanted to have a banking presence in Egypt to finance and facilitate the investments worth 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.75 billion) that it plans to make in Egypt. Because the central bank is reluctant to issue new banking licenses, acquiring an existing bank is the easiest way to join the Egyptian banking sector. Several foreign banks have moved in over the past two years, and central bank permission to perform due diligence on the target bank is often the first hurdle they have to cross. Efad Holdings had shown interest in another Egyptian bank, Egyptian Commercial and Maritime Bank, which was sold in July to Union National Bank of the United Arab Emirates, Humaidi said.