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Tue 26 Feb 2008 10:00 AM

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First Gulf wins approval to sell $2.5bn of bonds

Sale to finance expansion of its lending business, follows delay to $3.5bn bond issue.

Abu Dhabi's First Gulf Bank said it won investor approval to sell as much as $2.5 billion of bonds that are convertible to shares to finance expansion of its lending business.

The bank plans to sell the bonds this year, for which it has hired Goldman Sachs Group and Japan's Nomura Holdings, a bank director told a meeting of shareholders late on Monday. He did not give details or want to be identified.

"The economy is growing, there is new business and there is still market share to gain in the UAE," said the director. First Gulf confirmed the approval in a statement on Tuesday.

The bank said on February 3 it could return to the debt market by selling the convertible debt after delaying a bond sale last year.

First Gulf in July delayed a $3.5 billion eurobond programme "pending more stable and favourable international market conditions", it said at the time. (Reuters)