First Abu Dhabi Bank renews interest in Bank Audi’s Egypt unit

EGYPT – First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has renewed interest in acquiring the Egyptian business of Bank Audi, a leading Lebanese commercial bank.

Reuters reported that FAB, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender, will have an internal meeting this week to decide on a way to resume negotiations and put in a final bid.

Reuters further noted that a source privy to the transaction revealed that the Emirati financial giant planned to restart negotiations within two weeks.

FAB put talks on hold in May due to difficult market conditions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A source familiar with the matter said then that the deal to acquire the Egyptian business of Bank Audi was worth around $700 million.

Gulf lenders are keen to expand their market share in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.

The appetite of gulf lenders for the Egyptian market is coinciding with an urgent need by Lebanese lenders are trying to sell assets to fulfil a requirement from Lebanon’s central bank to increase their equity.

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, another gulf bank, is currently in talks to buy the Egyptian unit of Lebanon’s Blom Bank.

Emirates NBD has a sizable presence in Egypt which it created after acquired the local business of France’s BNP Paribas SA in 2020 in a deal estimated to be worth $500 million.

Emirates NBD is also reported to be considering purchasing Bank Audi’s Egypt assets, alongside its plans to acquire BLOM Bank’s Egypt assets.

The move is expected to give FAB a run for its money even as it seeks to establish its presence in Egypt.

Bank Audi was established in 2006 through acquisition of Cairo Far East Bank sae, a small Egyptian bank with only 3 branches.

The Bank has however grown over the years to its current position where it boasts of a network of 53 branches.

The Bank posted a profit after tax of US$41.25 million despite operating in a difficult economic environment occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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