Kuwait's CBK denies takeover reports

Bank denies claims that Qatari investors are looking to buy a 60% stake.
Kuwait's CBK denies takeover reports
By Reuters
Wed 09 May 2007 02:35 PM

Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) denied on Wednesday a newspaper report that Qatari investors may buy as much as 60% of Kuwait's third-largest lender, sending its stock plunging.

Al-Watan

reported that a Qatari bank and Qatari investors may buy up to equivalent of 700 million shares of the lender for 2.6 dinars ($8.99) per share.

It did not identify the Qatari investors or say how it got the information.

"The news in
al-Watan

is wrong. We deny the specific news item," CBK Chairman Abdul-Majeed al-Shatti told Reuters. He declined to say whether any stake-sale talks were taking place.

Shares of CBK surged 24% in the four days to Sunday's close on talk and a report in
al-Qabas

newspaper that Qatar National Bank was in talks to take over the lender.

In an earlier statement on the Kuwait bourse website on Wednesday, CBK said it denied "what was published in one of the local newspapers about the sale of an influential stake from the bank's shares."

"We didn't say anything about selling anything," Shatti told Reuters.

Shares of CBK were down 6.5%, or the maximum 100 fils allowed, to 1.440 dinars at 0642 GMT, their third consecutive fall.

Mustafa Behbehani, director of Gulf Consulting Co., said a 2.6 dinar-per-share offer was too high. "It's too high. The talk was about 2 dinars," he said.

TALKS

The Kuwaiti lender said last month it was considering a stake sale, merger, alliance or takeover with a foreign investor, triggering a rally in its stock price.

Al-Qabas

, citing unidentified sources, said on Saturday Qatar National Bank officials were in Kuwait for talks on buying a stake in the Kuwaiti lender.

Commercial Bank of Qatar had also expressed an interest in buying a stake, the newspaper said. The shares could cost about 2 dinars each, it said.

Kuwaiti newspapers have also identified local investment bank Global Investment House as a possible suitor for CBK. Global has declined to comment on the reports.

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