Noor Financial eyes bid for Banque du Caire

Commercial Bank of Kuwait interested in Egypt's third-largest state bank.
Noor Financial eyes bid for Banque du Caire
By Rania El Gamal
Mon 03 Mar 2008 10:07 AM

Kuwait's Noor Financial Investment Company said on Sunday it was in talks with potential banking partners about bidding for Egypt's Banque du Caire, which the Egyptian government is looking to sell.

Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK), which last year lost out to rival National Bank of Kuwait in a bid to buy Al Watany Bank of Egypt, also expressed an interest in Egypt's third-largest state bank.

"Egypt is one of the best emerging markets," Noor Managing Director Naser Al-Marri told newswire Reuters by telephone. "Potential growth is there, political stability is there and demand is there... services are still behind in the banking sector."

Noor, the financial arm of National Industries Group, is looking to own as much as 29% of Banque du Caire, Al-Marri said, declining to identify possible partners.

The Egyptian government plans to sell as much as 67% of Banque du Caire by the end of April.

Noor and Saudi Arabia's Samba Financial Group are among 12 banks submitting initial offers for the stake, Egyptian daily Al Alam Al Youm reported on Sunday.

"We will go maybe in an alliance with others into acquiring it, if there is a chance," CBK Chairman Abdul-Majeed Al-Shatti told Reuters, following the bank's general assembly meeting. Al-Shatti declined to give more details.

Mashreq, Dubai's third-largest lender by market value, said in September it may bid for Banque du Caire, which Egypt is looking to sell for as much as $1.6 billion.

A group led by Mashreq last year made an unsuccessful bid for Egypt's state-owned Bank of Alexandria. Mashreqbank Chief Executive Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair said a year ago the lender was considering other targets in the North African country.

Ali Raza Khan, head of corporate affairs at Mashreq declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement when Reuters contacted him in Dubai on Sunday.

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