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Wed 15 Aug 2007 11:50 PM

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Qatar bank calls off Ahli bid

International Bank of Qatar says further talks over its $6.1bn bid for Ahli United Bank are unlikely to be productive.

A Qatari bank effectively killed off a $6.1 billion bid to take over Bahrain's largest lender Ahli United Bank, saying on Wednesday talks were unlikely to succeed.

Kuwait's Tamdeen Investment Co., Ahli's second-largest shareholder, earlier this month had turned down a bid from International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) to make what would have been the biggest cross-border acquisition of a Gulf Arab company.

IBQ, which is 30 % owned by National Bank of Kuwait, "was aware that potential vendors of shares in AUB had stopped negotiations," it said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In view of this, IBQ feels that further discussions are unlikely to be productive," it said. Earlier this month, it said bid talks had stalled over who would do due diligence and how long it would take.

IBQ chief executive Michael Williams, in an interview with Reuters, declined to say if he was still interested in Ahli United or if he was open to renewed talks with Tamdeen and the other shareholders it represented.

Kuwait's al-Qabas newspaper reported on Sunday other investors from Qatar, as well as from Egypt and Jordan, were ready to make a higher offer for Ahli.

"I would interpret that the deal is dead," Joe Kawkabani, head of asset management at Dubai-based Algebra Capital said of IBQ's statements.

Reaping the economic benefit of record oil prices to the Gulf Arab states, regional banks have been looking to expand outside their home markets where competition is intensifying.

National Bank of Kuwait on Monday beat rivals including Commercial Bank of Kuwait to take over AlWatany Bank of Egypt for $522 million.

IBQ had offered $2.25 per share for 55 % of the stock and shares for the remainder of the company.

The other investors were offering $2.50 per share and more, al-Qabas reported, without saying how it got the information or identifying the investors.

Ahli stock surged on takeover talk in May and was up as much as 70 % on the year, before falling this month as the talks ran into trouble.

Still, the shares were up 36.5 % this year to Tuesday's close. They fell 2 % on Wednesday, before IBQ made its statement.

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