May 17, 2020 / 10:49 AM / 14 days ago

First Abu Dhabi Bank puts talks to acquire Bank Audi's Egyptian business on hold: sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB.AD) (FAB) has put on hold discussions to acquire the Egyptian assets of Lebanon’s Bank Audi (AUDI.BY) due to difficult market conditions, two sources told Reuters.

FAB, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender, communicated the request a few days ago to Bank Audi, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, declining to be identified due to commercial sensitivities.

Neither FAB nor Bank Audi were immediately available to comment. FAB said in February it would decide on the deal in the second quarter.

Bank Audi Egypt has grown from a three-branch operation acquired by Bank Audi in 2005 to 50 branches with total assets of $4.4 billion at the end of September.

One of the sources said the timing of the deal, which the source said was worth $700 million, was not right due to the need to support the UAE economy in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The UAE central bank has launched $70 billion worth of capital and liquidity measures to support the economy during the crisis.

FAB said last month it was among the first UAE lenders to launch relief measures for customers, including the postponement of loan repayments and the suspension or reduction of fees and charges across a wide range of financial products.

FAB’s move came after Kuwait Finance House (KFH.KW) last month agreed to postpone finalising its acquisition of Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank AUBB.BH, one of the biggest cross-border banking deals for years, until December due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lebanese banks are trying to strengthen their finances as the country endures its worst financial crisis since the civil war.

Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Saeed Azhar; editing by Jason Neely

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