Dubai: Dubai-based Arqaam Capital Ltd. and Abu Dhabi’s The National Investor are weighing a possible merger, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The investment banks are in talks about a combination that would create an entity with an equity value of about $250 million (Dh918 million), according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Arqaam would have management control of the merged bank and its investors would hold about 40 per cent, the person said.

Discussions are at an early stage and may not lead to a deal, the people said. Officials at Arqaam Capital didn’t respond to several requests for comment over the past two weeks. No one at The National Investor responded to requests for comment.

Banks in the Gulf are leading a record wave of mergers and acquisitions as governments look for ways to stay competitive and battle slow growth. About a dozen lenders are involved in mergers or takeovers. The flow of deals has been gathering speed ever since the mega-merger between two of Abu Dhabi’s largest banks in 2017.

Arqaam was set up by former Barclays Capital banker Riad Meliti in 2007 to focus on investment banking in emerging markets. The company has offices in Dubai, Cairo as well as Johannesburg, and its research arm covers 280 listed companies in 26 countries, according to its website.

Privately-owned The National Investor has four business divisions covering investment banking, private equity, asset management, and principal investments including real estate.

— Bloomberg