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Ithmaar Bank eyes merger via share swap deal

Tie-up with unlisted First Leasing Bank depends on shareholder approval

Gulf News

Dubai: Ithmaar Bank, Bahrain’s sixth-largest bank by market capitalisation, is in advanced talks to merge with an affiliate through a share swap agreement, the Islamic lender said in a statement on Tuesday. Shareholders of Ithmaar and unlisted First Leasing Bank will vote on the merger at meetings scheduled to take place at the end of October after the boards of both banks agreed to the tie-up, a filing to the Bahrain stock exchange said. The merger will be completed through a share-swap arrangement, details of which will be discussed at the upcoming shareholder meeting. The move was part of Ithmaar’s “vision of becoming a premier Islamic retail bank,” Mohammad Bucheerei, chief executive of Ithmaar Bank, said. The merger has received initial approval by the Central Bank of Bahrain but still requires a formal assent from the banking regulator and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the statement added. Ithmaar Bank holds 21.32 per cent of First Leasing Bank, with the rest spread among 33 other stakeholders.


State-owned oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Saudi Aramco, is investigating contracts it awarded to a subsidiary of Tyco International Ltd (TYC) after an announcement last week that the Switzerland-based company agreed to pay more than $26 million (Dh95.49 million) to settle foreign bribery charges brought by the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday. Saudi Aramco has suspended further dealings with Tyco Valves & Controls Middle East, a Tyco International subsidiary, while it looks into contracts it signed with the firm between 2003 and 2006, according to the person, who requested anonymity. Tyco Valves & Controls, which markets valves and other industrial equipment throughout the Middle East, pleaded guilty last week in a US court to paying bribes to officials employed by Saudi Aramco in order to obtain contracts with the Saudi government-controlled oil and gas company. As part of its internal probe, Saudi Aramco will ask Tyco to provide it with the names of any of its employees who were involved in receiving the bribes, the person familiar with the matter said. Saudi Aramco is fully owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world with activities in exploration, production, refining, distribution, shipping and marketing.

Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics NV said on Monday that it will start a joint venture with a unit of Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisaliah Group to sell its health care solutions and services in Saudi Arabia. Philips and Al Faisaliah Medical Systems (FMS), a subsidiary of the Al Faisaliah Group, will set up a 50-50 joint venture. The joint venture will combine Philips’ health care portfolio, including medical imaging systems, patient monitoring devices and clinical information solutions, with FMS’ knowledge of the market requirements and strong position in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian health care market is estimated to grow by 8 per cent annually between 2013 and 2017, driven by targeted government spending on health services and hospital infrastructure. The proposed transaction is subject to governmental approval, certain contractual and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first half of 2013. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Kuwait Oil Co

The state-run Kuwait Oil Co (KOC) plans to boost the daily production capacity of heavy oil to 60,000 barrels by 2017 and to 270,000 barrels by 2030, in line with the country’s strategic goals, Kuwait-based Al Jarida daily reported on Tuesday, citing Hani Hussain, the Gulf state’s oil minister. Kuwait has currently reduced heavy oil production due mainly to the high development cost, Hussain told the paper. KOC has completed a number of tests to assess the production capacity of the country’s Al Ratqa heavy crude oilfield, the daily cites Hussain as saying. The project will be presented in the 2013/2014 capital budget as the front-end engineering designs (Feed) are expected to be completed by that time, he added. The minister also told Al Jarida that KOC is setting up preliminary engineering designs for the second phase of the Jurassic reserves development project that will boost its production capacity of non-associated gas to 600 million cubic feet a day. KOC is also conducting technical studies of the project’s third phase that will boost the production of non-associated gas to 1 billion cubic feet a day in addition to 300,000 barrels a day of light oil, Hussain added.

Gulf Bank

Kuwait’s Gulf Bank said the country’s central bank has approved its request for extending the period for buying back or selling up to 10 per cent of its issued shares for an additional six months. The new period will run from October 14 to April 14, 2013, the lender said in a statement posted on the Kuwait bourse website. Gulf Bank’s total assets and shareholders’ equity stood at 4.88 billion Kuwaiti dinars (Dh63.73 billion) and KWD440.2 million respectively at the end of June, according to data.