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Virus may force Kuwait Finance and Bahrain’s AUB to reassess merger

Virus may force Kuwait Finance and Bahrain’s AUB to reassess merger

Last year, Kuwait Finance House offered to buy Ahli United Bank in an all-share deal that was valued at about $8.8bn

One of the Middle East’s rare cross-border bank mergers may need to be reassessed after the coronavirus delayed the formation of an entity with about $100bn in assets.

Kuwait Finance House, which was due to acquire Ahli United Bank of Bahrain, said its board had taken into account the risks from the pandemic and any material changes in the banks’ assets before deciding to postpone the merger until December. The bank may also consider updating any previously conducted studies for the combination, according to a statement on Sunday.

“The various technical studies related to the acquisition transaction will, if necessary, be duly refreshed before the resumption of acquisition procedures” because of the duration of the suspension period and the potential impact of the pandemic, Ahli United Bank said in a separate statement.

Kuwait Finance House last September offered to buy Ahli United Bank in an all-share deal that was valued at about $8.8 billion. HSBC Holdings Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG, the advisers on the merger process, had recommended a swap ratio of 1 Kuwait Finance House share for every 2.325581 Ahli United shares.

The combined entity would have potentially created the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender.

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