ADCB buys $51mn stake in Dubai investment bank

Abu Dhabi Commercial acquires 41% of Gulf Merchant Group, gains assets outside UAE.
ADCB buys $51mn stake in Dubai investment bank
By Reuters
Sun 02 Sep 2007 01:41 PM

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), the emirate's second largest lender, said on Sunday it had bought into a Dubai investment bank for $51 million as part of plans to expand outside the UAE.

The deal gives Abu Dhabi Commercial 41% of Gulf Merchant Group, making it the biggest shareholder of the investment bank, which is based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and has a subsidiary in the UK.

"With Gulf Merchant Group we plan to explore business opportunities in new growing markets in the Gulf and beyond," Abu Dhabi Commercial's chief executive Ervin Knox said in a statement.

Abu Dhabi Commercial, like regional rivals, is pushing out of its domestic market to fend off growing competition from foreign lenders.

Knox told Reuters in July that the bank was considering acquisitions in Turkey, the Gulf and Southeast Asia after failing last year to buy into an Egyptian lender.

Abu Dhabi Commercial is also looking to open branches in Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia, Knox said at the time.

Abu Dhabi Commercial's only foreign operations are in India, where plans to expand its network to 10 branches from two are on hold until the regulator approves them.

Gulf Merchant's strategy is to focus on family businesses in the UAE and on the international clients looking to expand in the region, Nabil Maaloul, chief executive of the investment bank, said in the statement.

Gulf Merchant operates in the UK through Gulf Merchant Group.

Foreign banks opened 36 branches in the UAE, the world's sixth largest oil exporter, in the three month to June 30, more than the total added in the previous three years.

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