Omani banks in $7bn merger talks

Alizz Islamic Bank and Oman Arab Bank have entered merger talks in yet another example of consolidation in the GCC’s banking sector.

In a statement to the Muscat Securities Market, the chairman of Alizz Islamic revealed he had received a letter from his counterpart at Oman Arab Bank raising the possibility of a tie-up.

The deal, which would be subject to final approval from the respective boards, shareholders and regulators, would create a bank with $7 billion of assets. It would also be the first bank merger in Oman since 2012, when HSBC combined its Omani operations with Oman International Bank.

Elsewhere in the region, reduced government spending and falling oil prices have triggered a wave of bank mergers.

In 2017 Abu Dhabi’s two largest banks, First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, combined to create a $175 billion institution. Three Qatari banks are planning to create the country’s largest Islamic lender. Two Saudi banks, Alawwal and Saudi British Bank, are in the process of merging.

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