Vote On Bahrain’s Triple Bank Merger

Capivest, Elaf Bank and Capital Management House are in talks to form one new bank with larger assets.

The shareholders of three Islamic banks in Bahrain will vote this month to approve their merger, the deal’s adviser said on Tuesday, in what would be a rare example of consolidation in the Gulf banking sector.

Due diligence has been completed on the tie-up between Capivest, Elaf Bank and Capital Management House to create a new bank with assets in excess of $400 million, Kuwait Finance House’s Bahraini arm said in a statement.

The proposed deal is designed to give the trio increased scale to make them more competitive in the Bahrain banking market.

If assent is granted by the shareholders, the merger will be completed in the second half of the year, subject to approval from the kingdom’s central bank.

There have long been calls for consolidation in the Gulf banking sector but mergers are uncommon because main shareholders – often powerful local families – are reluctant to cede control and often demand exaggerated valuations to complete a deal.

Bahrain Islamic Bank and Al Salam Bank said in February that merger talks between the two to form Bahrain’s biggest Islamic bank by assets had collapsed because of disagreement on pricing.

If the tie-up had been completed, the combined entity would have held assets worth about $4.5 billion.

Last June, Qatar’s Al Khalij Commercial Bank and International Bank of Qatar called off a planned merger after more than a year of talks.