KARACHI: United Bank Ltd (UBL) has received the regulatory nod to commence due diligence of Samba Bank Pakistan Ltd for the potential acquisition of its majority shareholding, it said in a stock filing on Wednesday.

The fourth largest bank in terms of market capitalisation is looking to buy an 84.51 per cent stake in Samba Bank, which has been put on sale by its Saudi Arabia-based parent company as part of its strategic review.

In the last week of December 2021, Fatima Fertiliser Company Ltd also expressed its intention to acquire 84.51pc shares in Samba Bank as part of a consortium that included the participating members of the bank’s management and Gulf Islamic Investments.

The share price of UBL decreased 0.13pc to Rs140.46 on Wednesday while the share price of Samba Bank inched up 2.25pc to Rs12.70.

Its previous majority owner, Samba Financial Group, merged with National Commercial Bank to become SNB in early 2021. The parent company announced on Sept 21, 2021 that it was considering all strategic options in relation to its shareholding in Samba Bank, including potential mergers, acquisitions, divestment and/or restructuring. SNB said on Oct 5, 2021, that it’d commence “an orderly well-managed divestment” of Samba Bank and appointed advisers to assist with the process.

Samba Bank is the fifth smallest among all listed lenders in terms of the total value of shares. Its net profit amounted to Rs356.5 million in July-September, down 22pc from the preceding quarter.

Based on its share price, the total value of Samba Bank amounted to roughly Rs12.8 billion on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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