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ADCB hires Goldman Sachs to sell stake in Malaysian bank

Sale may draw Chinese and other Asian banks-sources; Abu Dhabi Bank may appoint a second adviser - sources; Abu Dhabi Bank bought the stake in 2008

March 26, 2011 4:13 by

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) <ADCB.AD> has hired Goldman Sachs to sell its 25 percent stake in Malaysian bank RHB Capital valued at $1.4 billion, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday. ADCB had shortlisted three to four banks and it was still deciding whether to appoint a second adviser for the sale, sources added.

The proposed sale is expected to draw interest from Chinese banks and other Asian buyers due to Malaysia’s rapidly growing economy, though lack of control could deter strategic buyers from bidding aggressively, sources said.

An ADCB spokesman did not offer an immediate comment while a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Goldman Sachs was not available for an immediate comment. Sources declined to be identified as the information has not been formally made public yet.

A 30 percent foreign ownership limit in Malaysian banks has proved to be a stumbling block for foreign banks planning to expand in Malaysia through acquisitions.

But in a recent interview to Reuters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak signalled that he was ready to ease bank ownership rules and would consider allowing Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd <ANZ.AX> to double its stake in Malaysian lender AMMB Holdings to 49 percent.

Malaysia’s economy is forecast to grow by 5-6 percent in 2011, driving up demand for consumer loans and credit cards, which is the main attraction for the banks.

Sources said Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Malaysian investment bank CIMB and J.P. Morgan were the other banks who made it to the shortlist. A BofA spokesman declined comment while J.P. Morgan and CIMB were not available for comment.

It was not entirely clear why ADCB is planning to sell its stake at a time when several Asian and some European and U.S. financial institutions are sniffing around to buy banking assets in Southeast Asia.

“ADCB has failed to have significant influence over RHB or provide much banking expertise,” one of the sources said. “Now that RHB’s share price is hovering above what ADCB had paid, ADCB probably thinks the best option is to exit,” the source added. ADCB paid 7.20 Malaysian ringgit per share to buy the stake in 2008. The stock closed at 8.30 ringgit on Friday.

( By Denny Thomas and Stanley Carvalho, additional reporting by Saeed Azhar and Julie Goh; editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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