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Fri 11 May 2007 05:33 PM

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NBK sets sights on Turkish acquisition

National Bank of Kuwait has confirmed it hopes to buy a 30% stake in an unnamed Turkish bank.

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) confirmed today (Friday) it is in talks to buy a 30 percent stake in unlisted Turkish Bank.

"We want to expand our operations in Turkey," NBK Chief Executive Ibrahim Dabdoub said. "We want to offer consumer and corporate banking services."

Dabdoub had earlier said NBK was in talks to buy the stake in a Turkish lender but declined to disclose the name of the bank being targeted, saying only it was a listed bank in Istanbul.

Turkish Bank is unlisted.

Dabdoub had said the deal might be finalised in two or three weeks.

Two officials from Turkish Bank earlier said on Friday that NBK was in talks to buy a minority stake in the small lender.

National Bank of Kuwait, the third biggest Gulf lender by market value, told Reuters in March it was in talks to acquire a "medium-sized" bank in Turkey as part of its overseas expansion.

Turkish Bank has 17 branches and ended the year with total assets of 649 million lira ($481 million). As at June 2006, it was ranked 31st in the industry, according to regulatory data.

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

Major Gulf investor, the Kuwait Investment Authority, bought a 2.7 percent stake in state lender Halkbank during its initial public offering this week and the planned sale of a stake in Islamic lender Turkiye Finans is expected to bring another Gulf player into the market.

NBK was listed as one of the GCC's Most Admired companies earlier this month by Arabian Business magazine, a sister title to Arabianbusiness.com.

The bank announced net profits of US$221.5m during the first three months of 2007, compared to US$195m for the same period last year, an increase of 13%.

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