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Wed 2 Apr 2008 05:59 PM

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NBK buys Al Watany Bank of Egypt

Kuwait bank wins bid as part of 'expansion strategy in the region' says chief exec.

The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) announced on Wednesday that it had bought Al Watany Bank of Egypt bringing the institution under the growing umbrella of NBK banks.

“The deal constitutes a significant step within NBK's expansion strategy in the region,” NBK’s Chief Executive, Ibrahim Dabdoub said in a statement on the company’s website.

He also expressed his great satisfaction for having the opportunity to enter the Egyptian market, calling it one of the most promising markets in the region.

“We are counting on the significant market prospects that Egypt offers and will endeavour to develop and promote the bank and make it a significant player in the market,” the Kuwaiti bank said in a statement carried on its website.

NBK won the tender over joint bid by Commercial Bank of Kuwait and Al Noor Financial Investment Company, paying 4.16 times book value and 17 times earnings.

The announcement comes just days after the bank said it wishes to arrange sales of Islamic bonds worth up to $700 million in 2008 to fund expansion throughout the region.

On March 27, Amjad Ahmad, head of investment and merchant banking at NBK Capital told newswire Reuters that it was seeking to open offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as it expands in the Middle East to focus on advisory services for medium-sized deals.

The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of 2008 pending regulatory approval from both Egyptian and Kuwaiti authorities and after changing Al-Watany Bank’s current name to reflect its acquisition by NBK.