Kuwait Finance House and Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank’s boards will meet this week to consider valuation reports on a potential merger, a deal that would create the Gulf’s sixth-biggest lender with $92 billion in assets.
The boards will meet on January 24 to consider the studies by HSBC Holdings and Credit Suisse Group, the lenders said in separate statements. Kuwait Finance House said its meeting will take place after trading hours and will also consider proposed exchange share ratios.
Kuwait Finance House and Ahli United in July said they’d started renewed discussions for a potential merger. Initial talks between the banks faltered over price, people familiar with the matter said last January.
Lower oil prices over the past four years are forcing Gulf lenders to consolidate for scale and to better compete in a crowded market. Subdued credit growth, a squeeze on deposits, higher cost of funds and deteriorating asset qualities are driving consolidation in the regional banking sector.
In Saudi Arabia, National Commercial Bank is in talks to merge with Riyad Bank to create the Gulf’s third-largest lender with $182 billion in assets. Abu Dhabi is working on a merger of three of its banks, potentially the emirate’s second in just over a year. About a dozen other regional lenders are also involved in takeover talks.