3 Min Read
(Adds chairman buys quarter of the stake)
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - A consortium of Arab and Jordanian investors led by Arab Bank Chairman Sabih al Masri has bought a 20 percent stake in Arab Bank Group for $1.12 billion, the bank said on Wednesday.
It said the deal to buy the stake from Oger Middle East Holdings, part of the Lebanon's Hariri family business empire, involved a consortium including 40 investors, a majority of them Jordanian.
Masri, one of Jordan's major businessmen with stakes in other banks and the hotel industry, led the negotiations after the family of Saudi Arabia's Fawaz Alhokair dropped a planned $1.1 billion offer.
A source close to the deal said Masri was the single largest investor in the consortium, acquiring a quarter of the Hariri family's 20 percent stake in the bank.
QInvest, a Qatari investment bank, said in a statement it was the sole financial advisor to the consortium.
Masri told Reuters the purchase price was 6.25 dinars ($8.82) per share. Arab Bank's shares closed at 6.32 dinars on Wednesday.
Arab Bank is one of the Arab world's largest privately owned banks and operates in 30 countries. It owns 40 percent of Saudi Arabia's Arab National Bank ANB.
Arab Bank's growth has long been tied to its regional and global expansion. The bank has assets of more than $46 billion, 600 branches on five continents and a reputation for withstanding political upheaval.
"This sale will enhance the stability of the banking sector and is a vote of confidence in Jordan's economy at this time," Masri said.
Jordan's authorities, who consider Arab Bank a pillar of the country's economy, had resisted any non-Jordanian investor becoming the single largest shareholder in the bank.
Jordan had sought to prevent Hariri family business entities from taking greater control at the bank nearly a decade ago.
Arab Bank's 2016 net profit rose 20 percent to $533 million which it attributed to diversified operations and growth in revenue from core banking activities.
Construction giant Saudi Oger began seeking buyers for its stake in the bank over a year ago to help ease cashflow problems brought on by difficulties in the Saudi building sector.
It owes around 15 billion riyals ($4 billion) to banks, plus billions more to contractors, suppliers and employees, sources told Reuters in September.
The Arab Bank stake sale was expected to help it repay a $1.03 billion loan from regional and international banks due to mature this month. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Jane Merriman)