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Wed 16 May 2007 02:45 PM

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Oman Arab Bank in talks over Alliance

'Informal' discussions are held over a stake in the sultanate's largest mortgage firm.

Oman Arab Bank said on Wednesday it was in informal talks to buy a stake in the sultanate's largest mortgage firm Alliance Housing Bank.

"We are only in informal talks with Alliance," Oman Arab Bank Chief Executive Abdul-Kader Askalan told Reuters. "There nothing definite yet... We want to see if they really want to go ahead with it," he told Reuters by telephone.

"We want to see if there is an opportunity to enlarge the source," he said in reference to mortgages.

Bank Muscat, the country's largest lender, last week made a $205 million offer to buy Alliance Housing, a bid the mortgage company turned down saying it had received interest from another Omani bank.

Alliance's biggest shareholder, Oman National Investment Corp. Holding, told Reuters last week it was looking for a higher price and closer to five times book value.

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