(Adds details and background)
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN Dec 6 Arab Bank Group Chairman
Sabih al Masri is joining other Jordanian and Arab investors in
a bid to buy Oger Middle East Holding's 20 percent stake in Arab
Bank, an Amman bourse statement said on Tuesday.
The stock exchange disclosure included a letter signed by
Masri confirming a Reuters story on Monday that he was leading a
consortium to buy the stake after the family of Saudi Arabia's
Fawaz Alhokair dropped its $1.1 billion offer.
Masri said Oger Middle East Holding had agreed to sell the
20 percent stake and both sides were working on finalising a
Banking sources said the Masri-led consortium was offering
to pay a similar amount to the Alhokair offer but the statement
gave no figure.
The Alhokair family had been trying to secure
financing to buy the stake in the Jordan-based bank, one of the
Arab world's largest privately owned banks, after construction
giant Saudi Oger began seeking buyers to help ease cashflow
problems brought on by difficulties in the Saudi building
Oger Middle East Holding is owned by the family of Lebanese
Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri and the Arab Bank stake
sale was expected to help it repay a $1.03 billion loan from
regional and international banks due to mature in February.
Jordanian banking sources said Masri, a prominent
businessman with extensive holdings in banking and hotels in
Jordan and the region, had not been bidding with Alhokair and
there was no auction.
It was not clear what had ended an Alhokair deal, but
Jordanian authorities, who consider Arab Bank a pillar of the
country's economy, had resisted any non-Jordanian investor
becoming the single largest shareholder in the bank.
Senior banking sources said some board members had
questioned why a foreign investor should buy the stake at a fire
sale price. Other local investors were angry that Alhokair was
not seeking to buy the stake with its own money but mostly with
cash raised from a banking syndicate, with the shares as
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by David Clarke and