HSBC Bank Oman (HBMO.OM) said on June 19 it would discuss preliminary terms with local rival Sohar International Bank (BKSB.OM) after the latter last week fend off the possibility of a cash-and-shares deal to merge the two lenders.
In a statement, the unit of UK-based HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L) said it had examined the letter of intent it got from Sohar and had decided to go in for preliminary discussions to acquire additional information on the possible offer. The bank noted:
“If the parties agree to proceed with the merger, it will be subject to various conditions including … approval of the relevant regulatory authorities and of the shareholders at the extraordinary general assembly of each bank.”
Sohar has until now provided no details of the terms of its possible approach, saying only that its board had agreed to examine the possibility of a cash and shares deal, contingent on various approvals.
Any combination would occur amid a merger trend in the sector across the Gulf region as profit margins have been hit by diminished government expenditure, while banks attempt to expand to become more competitive regionally.
Saudi Arabia’s largest lender National Commercial Bank (1180.SE) (NCB) for example has consolidated with smaller lender Samba Financial Group to make Saudi National Bank with assets exceeding $240 billion.
Abu Dhabi has also witnessed two top bank mergers.
HSBC Oman’s market capitalization was $587 million since its last closing. Its shares climbed 9.7 percent on Sunday. Sohar’s market value is about $816 million, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. Its shares tumbled about 1%.
HSBC has been running operations in Oman since 1948.
($1 = 3.7521 riyals)