Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which headed a consortium that acquired ABN Amro bank last year, yesterday confirmed that a 40 per cent stake owned by ABN in Saudi Hollandi Bank is being valued for sale.
In an emailed statement to Emirates Business, RBS added that the stake "is a shared asset" owned by the consortium that includes Fortis and Santander.
Dubai-based Emirates NBD on Sunday said it would consider buying the 40 per cent in Saudi Hollandi whenever there is a clear announcement of the consortium's intention to sell it. Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Uppal yesterday told Emirates Business the lender is awaiting official confirmation the stake is for sale.
Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiah yesterday quoted Saudi Hollandi Chairman Mubarak Al Khafrah as saying that "the bank's board hopes to finalise the issue of the consortium's stake within three months". On the Emirates NBD initiative, Al Khafrah said: "There is nothing official so far."
Emirates NBD, the Middle East's largest lender by assets, is looking at organic as well as inorganic options to expand its business in the Kingdom. "We will expand by starting operations as an investment banking company later this year after we acquired that licence from Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority in 2007. The Saudi banking market is a very important market and we are very interested in expanding there," Uppal said.
Saudi Hollandi reported a net profit of SAR282.4 million for the first three months of this year compared to SAR215.4 million for the same period in 2007, an increase of 31 per cent.
Investment bank EFG Hermes has issued a "buy" recommendation for the Saudi bank.