Egypt's NSGB may gain as Qatar bank says deal still on

Shares in National Societe Generale Bank may react positively to comments from Qatar National Bank

Shares in Cairo-listed National Societe Generale Bank may react positively on Thursday to comments from Qatar National Bank, which hopes to complete the purchase of the Egyptian lender within the next two months.

QNB says it won't be deterred by the currency crisis in the North Africa country to buy a majority stake in French bank Societe Generale's Egyptian unit.

Investors in NSGB have long been waiting for the deal to be completed, although some were disappointed with the purchase price of $2 billion for a 77 percent stake.

NSGB shares have fallen 8.6 percent to 35.95 pounds per shares since the purchase price - thought to be about 36 pounds - was agreed upon in mid-December.

In Doha, Vodafone Qatar, an affiliate of Vodafone Group, reported a narrowing third-quarter loss on Wednesday as its subscriber base rose by a quarter and revenue per user grew.

In Saudi Arabia, heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank posted a small rise in fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday, coming in slightly below the average forecast of analysts.

Samba Financial Group posted a 7.8 percent fall in fourth quarter net profit, also missing analyst expectations as its income from special commissions declined.

Investors will give their verdict on the results on Saturday, with the bourse closed for its weekend on Thursday and Friday.

"November numbers from SAMA (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency) showed no aggregate growth for banks in November, which makes us cautious on Al Rajhi and Samba," says Hesham Tuffaha, fund manager at a Saudi investment firm, speaking before the two banks announced their results. Yet banks will be among the key drivers of earnings growth for the Saudi market in 2013, he adds.

Savola Group, the Saudi-based food conglomerate, posted a 17 percent drop in quarterly net profit, also missing analysts' forecasts.

The global backdrop appears benign as Asian shares eke out modest gains Thursday.

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