Abu Dhabi, Dubai

The Sharjah government is weighing a merger between three of the emirate’s banks that could create a lender with about Dh66.2 billion ($18.0 billion) of assets, sources aware of the matter told Reuters.

Invest Bank and United Arab Bank could be merged with Bank of Sharjah, majority-owned by the Sharjah Government, which is driving the merger, the sources said.

The potential merger between Bank of Sharjah, Invest Bank and United Arab Bank (UAB) reinforces the consolidation already underway in the UAE’s crowded banking industry. About 50 banks operate in the UAE with a population of about 9 million people.

Three Abu Dhabi banks are currently in talks to merge, while last year two of the emirate’s biggest banks merged to create First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Invest Bank and UAB declined to comment, while Bank of Sharjah didn’t respond to a request for comment.