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Tue 31 Jul 2007 12:07 PM

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Kuwaiti bank buys into Turkish lender

National Bank of Kuwait agrees to purchase a 40% stake in Turkish Bank for $160mn.

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is buying 40% of Turkish Bank for $160 million, an official of the Kuwaiti bank said, in the latest move by a Gulf lender to make a foreign acquisition as domestic competition intensifies.

National Bank said in May it was in talks to take a 30% stake in privately-owned Turkish Bank, with an option to increase that to 40%.

"We have taken the whole lot," said the National Bank official, who asked not to be identified.

A quarter of the $160 million would be invested in increasing the capital of Turkish Bank, the official said.

Like other Gulf banks riding an economic boom on the back of a tripling in oil prices since 2002, NBK is growing abroad to offset competition at home, where foreign players such as HSBC Holdings and BNP Paribas SA are expanding their presence.

Turkish Bank has 17 branches and ended the year with total assets of TL649 million ($481.2 million).

National Bank wants to increase its branch network five-fold in two years, the official said.

Turkey has seen a string of foreign acquisitions of its banks in recent years with purchases from European and US institutions.

Kuwait Investment Authority, which invests the Gulf Arab state's budget surpluses, bought a 2.7% stake in the initial public offering of state lender Halkbank in May.

This month, Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank, the Gulf's largest lender by assets, agreed to pay $1.08 billion for 60% of privately owned Turkish Islamic lender Turkiye Finans.

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