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Mon 19 Mar 2007 04:36 PM

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New Omani bank to launch after IPO

Oman Merchant Bank will open to commercial and retail customers before the end of the year.

Gulf Merchant Group, an investment banking and asset management group, is to launch a retail and commercial bank in Oman by the end of the year.

The Oman Merchant Bank (OMB) will be capitalised at a minimum of OMR50m (US$129.9m), and will hold an IPO on the Muscat Securities Market before it begins operations.

HH Al Sayyid Asaad Bin Tariq Al Said, chairman of OMB, said: "We are seeing a gradual opening of the Omani economy that is creating an investment-friendly environment to attract much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Sultanate. The Government of Oman is also committed to major infrastructure developments that will accommodate the needs of a young and growing population in line with the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

"OMB's focus on corporate and investment finance means that the bank will be well poised to capitalise on the opportunities created by these important developments."

Factors behind the decision to launch include the strong performance of the Omani economy, deregulation and upcoming privatisations, and expected changes in wealth management.

Nabil Maaloul, CEO of Gulf Merchant Group, said: "We are delighted to be given this opportunity to participate in the growth of the Omani economy by providing vital corporate and investment banking services."

The bank is also considering a secondary listing on an international exchange such as London or the Dubai International Financial Exchange.

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