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Tue 29 May 2007 01:39 PM

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Oman's Alliance still seeks suitors

Alliance Housing Bank continues talks despite a hostile takeover bid by Bank Muscat.

The board of Oman's Alliance Housing Bank, the country's largest mortgage company, said on Tuesday it would continue talks with local and foreign suitors despite a hostile takeover bid by Bank Muscat.

Bank Muscat met Alliance shareholders last week to drum up support for its offer of 0.375 rials ($0.974) per share after the board earlier rejected the bid.

"The bank has been in discussions with a number of other banks, both domestic and international, regarding various strategic options available," the board said in a statement on the Oman bourse website.

"The interests of the shareholders will be best served by continuing these discussions in parallel with any talks with Bank Muscat," it said, without identifying the other lenders.

Alliance's biggest shareholder, Oman National Investment Corp. Holding, said this month it was looking for a higher price.

Bank Muscat's offer was 36% above Alliance's share price before the bid was announced on May 9.

Alliance shares have since rallied more than 30%. Shares of Alliance Housing were up 1.88% at 0.38 rials at 0610 GMT.

A Bank Muscat official said last week it had decided not to raise its offer because it was unaware of any firm rival offers.

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